Although Kimbrough Army Community Hospital will lose its emergency room by 1997, it will gain "super clinic" status, bringing more specialists and primary care programs to Fort Meade, an Army general said yesterday.
"This medical treatment facility will remain and hopefully do even better than in the past," Maj. Gen. Ronald R. Blanck told more than 100 military retirees, active-duty personnel and their families gathered at the post theater.
Kimbrough is being downgraded from a 36-bed hospital with an emergency room and inpatient services to a clinic under recommendations of the federal Base Closure and Realignment Commission. The move is designed to trim 61 jobs and save $50 million over 20 years.
Kimbrough will continue its pharmacy, outpatient care and same-day surgery services. It also will expand its hours, hire an advice nurse, bring in visiting specialists from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, and be part of the Defense Department's revised managed-care system. The hourlong meeting was the first public briefing on Kimbrough's status.
General Blanck, a commander from Walter Reed, said the commission probably targeted Kimbrough because it is barely an hour's drive from the Army and Navy centers.
Meanwhile, Kimbrough officials are working with North Arundel Hospital, the closest civilian hospital -- about 15 minutes away -- to handle emergency visits.
Kevin Murnane, a spokesman for North Arundel, said the hospital's emergency room treated about 50,000 patients last year, and doctors are concerned about the increase when Kimbrough becomes a clinic. Officials are considering expanding the hospital's 21-bed emergency room.
"I think it's going to be all right," said Edward Smith, 71, a retired Army medic who has been coming to Kimbrough for three decades. "We've been real fortunate to have our treatment here," added his wife Betty, 66, who has been hospitalized at Kimbrough for weeks a time.