The Harford County Health Planning Commission has voted to support Upper Chesapeake Health System's hospital plan, with
The board, made up of community members, voted 11-1 with one abstention to endorse an exemption from a state certificate of need for Upper Chesapeake's consolidation project.
Upper Chesapeake, a nonprofit medical-management group, is the parent company of the county's two hospitals, Fallston General Hospital and Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace. It wants to build a $44.8 million, 150-bed hospital in Abingdon, close Fallston Hospital and reduce the licensed beds at Harford Memorial from 275 to 100.
Harford Memorial would lose its pediatric and obstetric units to the new facility. Also, 25 of its beds would be for psychiatric patients. The state already has granted permission to transfer Fallston's psychiatric unit to Harford Memorial.
One of the board's recommendations calls for keeping 125 hospital beds at Harford Memorial, said Bill Wiseman, a member of the local health planning staff.
"If it is the determination of the [state] commission to amend the application in that regard, then we would do so," said Constance F. Row, president and chief executive officer of Upper Chesapeake.
The local board is drafting a letter to the Maryland Health Resources Planning Commission, which will make the final decision.
L "A lot of time was put into the decision," Mr. Wiseman said.
The local board's comments will be taken seriously by the state board, said Susan Panek, a commission staff member.
The earliest the hospital proposal would be considered is at the state commission's Oct. 11 session, Ms. Panek said.
For more information, call the planning board at (410) 764-3255.