Hospitals join forces in center


Howard County General Hospital on Thursday will sign a formal agreement with the University of Maryland creating a regional oncology center expected to open to cancer patients late next year.

Thursday's signing will be the next step in a long-range effort by Howard County General to better serve cancer patients from throughout the region, according to Victor Broccolino, president of the 223-bed hospital.

"Part of our strategic plan is to become a [well-established] regional oncology center by the end of the century," said Mr. Broccolino. The Columbia hospital already has built four chemotherapy rooms for cancer patients and a hospice suite, which it completed last month.

Under the agreement to be signed Thursday, radiation oncologists associated with the University of Maryland will lease the hospital's Sam Shoemaker Building, a two-story medical office building on Little Patuxent Parkway next to the hospital.

Howard County General will provide three medical oncologists to the new oncology center.

The center's radiation oncologists will come from the University of Maryland Medical System Hospital and from the University of Maryland Radiation Oncology Associates Professional Association, a Baltimore-based medical group.

The agreement calls for the University of Maryland to spend a total of $3 million to $4 million on renovations and new equipment, Mr. Broccolino said.

"It brings a service to our community that is needed," he said.

In unrelated projects, hospital officials hope to start construction in April on a $9.5 million ambulatory, or outpatient, services building, and plan $3 million of renovations to three existing units of the hospital.

The planned two-story ambulatory services building will contain all of the hospital's outpatient services, along with four operating rooms and a health education center.

The 42,000-square-foot building will replace the existing one-story health education center, which houses educational programs, conference rooms and offices.

Mr. Broccolino said the hospital plans to open the new building by summer 1995.

"The 1993 building project is expected to meet most of the hospital's inpatient and outpatient services for the next five years," he said.

The third major project involves the renovation of three units, including work on the postpartum obstetric unit and relocating inpatient beds to hospital's fourth floor, which now houses offices and clinical services.

The hospital is paying for the ambulatory services building and renovations through $19 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds issued by the Maryland Health and Higher Educational Facilities Authority.

In addition, the hospital will use $40 million in bonds from the same source to pay off, at lower interest rates, the debt on three existing long-term bond issues.

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