Carroll County General Hospital is negotiating with county government to buy the county Health Department building, officials said Friday.
The building likely would be used for an expanded outpatient surgery center and doctors' offices, said Linda Harder, hospital vice president for planning and marketing.
Hospital officials have been interested in buying the Washington Road building, which is connected to the hospital by an underground corridor, for years, she said.
The building would be a convenient place for outpatient services, in part because it has 170 parking spaces, she said.
Hospital and county officials have discussed a potential sale at meetings during the last six to eight months, Ms. Harder said. She would not comment on a potential sales price.
"We're just in the talking stage," Commissioner Donald I. Dell said.
The commissioners have not met with hospital officials, but county staff members have, he said.
Carroll County Attorney Charles W. Thompson Jr. said, "We're not in any serious negotiations at this point. We're looking at what we feel the building is worth."
The two-story building has 35,000 square feet of space. The hospital would have to gut the building and renovate it, Ms. Harder said. She did not know how much the renovation might cost.
Asked when the negotiations might end, Ms. Harder said she didn't know, but added, "We're certainly eager to come to a conclusion within a reasonable period of time."
The hospital would like to open its expanded outpatient surgery center within a few years, she said.
The hospital now performs 6,300 outpatient surgeries a year, she said.
If the hospital buys the building, the Health Department would move into a 30,000-square-foot portable building, department spokesman Larry Leitch said.
The portable building would be located at a site near the hospital or the county airport or at Friendship Valley Elementary School on Gist Road near Kate Wagner Road, he said.
Martin Marietta Corp. in Middle River is giving the county three 30,000-square-foot modular portable buildings. The county will use the other two buildings for Board of Education administrative offices, Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy said.
The county would pay about $3.5 million to move, install and provide utilities for the three portables, officials have said.
The portables should be in place by the end of the summer, Mr. Lippy said. The education offices will be at Friendship Valley Elementary.
The move to a portable building would mean the Health Department, which has 205 full-time-equivalent positions, would have less space, Mr. Leitch said.
But changes in the department's organization could mean fewer employees would be working at the building, he said. The county has proposed taking charge of the department's Environmental Health Bureau, he said.
Also, officials have proposed creating a private, nonprofit agency to be responsible for mental health programs the department currently runs, Mr. Leitch said.