Havre de Grace council president says his city still needs, wants and deserves a full service hospital [Commentary]

The Aegis

The following statement was addressed to Lyle Sheldon, president and CEO of University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health, by Havre de Grace City Council President David Glenn at Monday’s City Council meeting. A copy was provided for publication. Editor

I’m glad Lyle Sheldon is here tonight.

I want to personally thank him and the entire Upper Chesapeake staff for their tireless dedication and selfless service to the residents of this community.

There has been much dialogue over the recent months regarding the path forward for Upper Chesapeake.

Some may feel that I have taken a stance that I am against Lyle and his Board of Directors. Nothing could be further than the truth as I applaud what they have meant to this community over the years.

However, given a choice for a free standing medical facility or a full service hospital, the answer is a simple one ... I want a full service hospital!

And, Lyle, that is because you have spoiled us with your outstanding customer service over the years.

You have indicated that the move to a new facility is because of encroachment downtown with little chance to expand. There is without a doubt a lot of truth to that.

However, the same encroachment is starting to take place in Bel Air.

And while I may not be an expert in health care, I truly feel that not putting a full service hospital in Havre de Grace, given our close proximity to Baltimore, Philadelphia and Christiana is a missed opportunity.

You indicated at one of the public sessions that doctors will not come here. I have a hard time believing that. Given the myriad of recognition we have received in recent years; given that we are a waterfront community; given the fact that we are about to get a new school; and looking at our recent new home sales, people are flocking to move here. This is a great place to raise a family and call home.

You have indicated that the new facility will not be your traditional hospital and that we will not have surgical capabilities. By your staff’s own admission, every time you put a patient in an ambulance to transport them to another hospital, you put them at risk. I for one prefer not to take that risk. A full service hospital in Havre de Grace would eliminate that risk.

We were led to believe that a second full service hospital in Harford County was not an option with the Maryland Health Care Commission. In talking to them, they indicated that was never said. We just have to make a valid case and I think we could do that. Much like Elkton’s merger with Lifebridge, we want to ensure access to care in the community where people reside.

Keep in mind that when I was first elected to office, my goal was a new replacement school for the students of Havre de Grace. At a candidates forum, it was said that I was trying to sell the voters on a platform I could never deliver on. I knew we had a great story to tell and with the help of this community and more importantly our students, we told that story and the shovel will soon be going in the ground. We have proven we can beat the odds.

Lyle, I am not against you or Upper Chesapeake. But I cannot or will not apologize for going to bat for the people I represent. Every time I go to church, the grocery store, a sporting event, or a community event like First Friday’s, I get the same message time and time again. We want a full service hospital. Many people took up residence here knowing we had a full service hospital. They do not want to lose such a treasure and invaluable resource.

Failing to push for a full service hospital is a tremendous oversight and opportunity lost. I truly feel that working together we can make it happen and I will continue to push to convince key leaders that it is the right thing to do. I ask you and your team to join with me to make that happen.

David Glenn

City Council President

Havre de Grace

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