Upper Chesapeake Health intends to scale back its plans for a psychiatric hospital and free-standing medical facility in Aberdeen as well as its expansion plan for the hospital in Bel Air.
The health care system has been planning to close Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace and relocate its services to either Aberdeen or Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air.
The psychiatric component at Harford Memorial would move to Aberdeen, which would also include a behavioral health component and a full-service emergency department, while the medical/surgical beds would be transferred to Bel Air.
University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health is seeking approval of those plans from the Maryland Health Care Commission, which sent a letter containing a “summary of issues of concern” to the health care system in July.
The commission questioned why Upper Chesapeake wouldn’t move the psychiatric component to Bel Air with the medical/surgical beds and why it needed so many observation beds, prompting Upper Chesapeake’s planned revisions.
Those new plans were outlined in a letter dated Sept. 13 from Lyle Sheldon, president and CEO of Upper Chesapeake.
Officials from Upper Chesapeake declined to comment on the proposed changes.
“We continue to negotiate with the MHCC regarding our plans for Bel Air and the new Aberdeen campus,” Martha Mallonee, director of corporate communications, marketing and public relations for UCH, said. “We do not want to comment on this topic since discussions continue and any comment would be premature to the review process.”
According to the letter from Sheldon to the commission, and Paul Parker, director of health care facilities planning and development for the Maryland Health Care Commission, the number of observation beds in the psychiatric hospital in Aberdeen would be reduced from 40 to 33.
The psychiatric hospital would occupy the second and third floors of a new, 120,000-square-foot building. In July, Upper Chesapeake Health settled on an $18 million property at 635 McHenry Road off Route 22 near I-95 in Aberdeen for the planned freestanding medical and behavioral health center.
The first floor of that building will house the free standing medical center and observation beds, Parker said. Upper Chesapeake plans to decrease the number of observation beds from 24 to 17, he said.
Observation beds are for patients who don’t need to be admitted to the full-service hospital in Bel Air, but aren’t ready to be discharged after a few hours.
In Bel Air, Upper Chesapeake had planned to establish 77 new observation beds, but has revised its plan to have 45 semi-private observation beds and 30 private medical/surgical beds that will occupy two floors of new construction at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center.
The third floor will be constructed as shell space to accommodate expansion at the Kaufman Cancer Center.
According to Sheldon’s letter, Upper Chesapeake will resubmit its two requests for exemption from the certificate of need process and resubmit its certificate of need request for the psychiatric hospital.
There is no deadline to resubmit its plans, Parker said.
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“But I’m sure they want to get something done as soon as possible,” he said. “I don’t expect they will take any more time than they need.”