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Upper Chesapeake Health files for state approvals on new Havre de Grace facilities

Lyle Sheldon, president and CEO of University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health, talks with Harford County legislators earlier this year about the need for more behavioral health services. His organization plans to build a 40-bed special psychiatric hospital in Havre de Grace.
Lyle Sheldon, president and CEO of University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health, talks with Harford County legislators earlier this year about the need for more behavioral health services. His organization plans to build a 40-bed special psychiatric hospital in Havre de Grace. (David Anderson/The Aegis / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health is moving forward with the first phase of its planned Havre de Grace Medical Campus.

The Harford County based hospital and outpatient services operator has applied for approval to build a 40-bed, “special psychiatric hospital” on 32 acres off Barker Lane, according to legal notices published recently by the Maryland Health Care Commission.

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The estimated cost of the building is $52.4 million, according to the announcement.

The health care commission would have to approve the specialty hospital before it can be built, granting what is known as a certificate of need.

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Upper Chesapeake Health has two more applications for certificates of exemption — one to convert University of Maryland Harford Memorial Hospital in downtown Havre de Grace from an “acute care facility” to a free-standing medical center on its 97-acre campus near Bulle Rock, and the other to build space for more hospital beds above the Kauffman Cancer Center at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air, according to Robin Luxon, UCH’s senior vice president for corporate planning, marketing and business development.

“Both applications are currently being reviewed by the Maryland Health Care Commission,” Luxon wrote in an email Wednesday.

All three applications are related to Upper Chesapeake Health’s $160 million Vision 2020 plan to close the aging Harford Memorial, establish a new free-standing medical center on its Bulle Rock campus and expand Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air.

“I anticipate that we will have a few additional questions which will be issued shortly on one or more of these three projects,” Paul Parker, director of the MHCC’s Center for Health Care Facilities Planning & Development, wrote in an email Wednesday. “I would anticipate final action in the first quarter of 2018.”

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Earlier this year, Lyle Sheldon, Upper Chesapeake’s president, said the 2020 plan is still on target to be completed by late 2020 or early 2021. Health system leaders planned one year for regulatory approvals and two years for construction.

“Our timeline remains unchanged at this point in time,” Luxon said.

The application for the special psychiatric hospital was placed on the commission’s docket Dec. 8, according to Parker.

Anyone who wants to make comments on the psychiatric hospital application has 30 days after the docketing date to file their comments with the commission, according to Parker.

Written comments must be submitted by “close of business” on Jan. 8, 2018; comments should include the docket number, Matter No. 17-12-2403, according to the legal notice.

Written correspondence should be addressed to: Paul E. Parker, Director, Center for Health Care Facilities Planning & Development, Maryland Health Care Commission, 4160 Patterson Ave, Baltimore, MD 21215.

Planning commission approval

The Havre de Grace Planning Commission approved a concept plan for the new campus in 2012. Such approvals are good for a year but can be renewed at the request of the landowner.

The plans for the Bulle Rock property, unveiled a few years before Vision 2020, had envisioned building a new hospital to replace Harford Memorial, outpatient clinics, medical office buildings and related services such as pharmacies, a hotel, eating places.

Those plans were later scrapped, and the plan for the hybrid medical center was unveiled as part of Vision 2020.

Upper Chesapeake, which is using its original site plan, has received renewals from the planning commission in each subsequent year. The 2017 renewal request had been scheduled to be addressed Monday night; that session was postponed until Jan. 8 at the applicant’s request, according to city staff.

Upper Chesapeake’s Luxon declined to say why the review was postponed, but wrote it was “unrelated to the regulatory process.”

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