ANNAPOLIS – Harford County's local health services, as well as many other area businesses and government services, were on display Wednesday for state officials during the 17th annual Harford County Night in Annapolis.
University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health, which operates Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air and Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace, was the main sponsor of the reception attended by about 300 people.
The reception was held in the Governor Calvert House, one of the historic inns a short distance from the State House in Annapolis.
Upper Chesapeake Health, which completed its merger with the University of Maryland Medical System in late 2013, has sponsored the event several times in the past 17 years. The merger with UMMS was in the spotlight this year.
"I think the merger with the University of Maryland Medical System is one of the most important things that is happening to health care in Harford County," Dr. Richard Streett Jr., a member of the Upper Chesapeake board and the vice chair of the reception's co-host, the Greater Harford Committee, told the audience of Harford County leaders and local legislators.
Streett, a long-serving Harford County veterinarian, introduced Dr. Stephen Bartlett, the Peter Angelos distinguished professor of surgery and chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.
Bartlett also is the executive vice president and surgeon-in-chief for UMMS. His specialties are transplants and vascular surgery.
The surgeon praised the administrators and staff of Upper Chesapeake Health, and he noted the Patricia D. and M. Scot Kaufman Cancer Center at the Bel Air hospital, which opened in 2013 and was a major result of the four-year merger process with UMMS, "is so beautifully set up."
Bartlett said he continues to work with Lyle Sheldon, the UCH president and CEO, and Sheldon's management team "to really integrate everything that happens in Bel Air with everything that happens in Maryland."
"I truly believe the dominant hospital in our system is going to continue to be Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, because its boundaries seem to have no end," Bartlett said.
The surgeon said Upper Chesapeake does not only serve patients in Harford County, but also serves people from Delaware, southern Pennsylvania, the Eastern Shore and Baltimore County.
Sheldon told the audience Upper Chesapeake continues to be "on the cusp of the transformation of health care in Harford County."
He noted that transformation will continue, and UCH officials expect to make an announcement in about three weeks about their plans for a new project. Sheldon did not, however, offer specifics about those plans.
"About three weeks from right now, we'll actually be sharing with you plans for what we want to do, really to transform the future of the health care delivery system across greater Northeastern Maryland," Sheldon said.
Upper Chesapeake Health was far from the only aspect of Harford County on display Wednesday. Visitors could stop by booths operated by representatives of Harford County Public Schools, the Town of Bel Air, the cities of Aberdeen and Havre de Grace, the Harford County government, Harford County Public Library, Harford Community College, as well as major employers such as Frito Lay Inc., Booz Allen Hamilton, Battelle and organizations such as the Army Alliance and the Greater Bel Air Community Foundation.
A number of state department heads stopped by, as well as Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch.
The reception was hosted by the Greater Harford Committee and the Harford County Chamber of Commerce.
Patrick Pollard, chair of the Greater Harford Committee, said the reception is a way to "try to showcase Harford County and all the great things in Harford County to the Legislature and all the rest of the people in Annapolis."
Pam Klahr, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, urged legislators to pursue business-friendly strategies in Annapolis.
"Give us a chance, talk to us, before you do anything that's going to affect business," she told the audience. "We're here to be your grass roots; we want to help you, we're all in this together."
Harford County Executive Barry Glassman said local businesses will move the county "forward as we become Maryland's new center of opportunity."
"I want to make sure we're on the ground here in Annapolis to make sure our county is ready to compete," said Glassman, a former state legislator.
Like Sheldon, Glassman announced some big upcoming economic news for the county, but he was tight-lipped about details.
"We have some good news coming," he said. "I'm going to wait until the [fiscal 2017] budget comes out, but it'll be good for our local contractors, good for the Harford County economy."
Maj. Gen. Bruce Crawford, senior commander of Harford's largest employer, Aberdeen Proving Ground, spoke on behalf of the Army post's nearly 22,000 "great Americans," its soldiers, civilian employees and contractors.
"My purpose for being here tonight, to be quite honest with you, is to simply say thank you for your support of your United States Army," Crawford said. "That happens in Harford County; that happens throughout the great state of Maryland, it happens throughout the nation."