Pushed by a rising demand for medical care, the Anne Arundel Medical Center in Parole is beginning a nine-month planning process for possible expansion.
The center moved from its longtime downtown home to its 103-acre campus in Parole two years ago, but the same rise in demand that prompted that move is causing hospital leaders to look for new ways to grow, said Martin L. Doordan, president of the Anne Arundel Health System.
"I would expect that in the future, this will be a much different place," Doordan said.
The system, a nonprofit organization serving Anne Arundel and neighboring counties, has hired medical development specialists to work on the planned expansion.
Doordan said it was too early to discuss possible growth areas or to gauge potential costs. He said he wanted to keep the early stages of planning as open as possible.
"I think we have enormous potential in bringing all the best minds together," he said. "I'm trying not to prejudice this."
He added, however, that he expects the medical center to do more research and add specialty centers.
"We're calling this Vision 2010, but really I'm looking at the next 20 to 25 years to build this into a mecca for health care," Doordan said.
Hospital officials have begun laying the groundwork for expansion, securing control of a 120,000-square-foot building across Jennifer Road that the health system originally developed with the Constellation Energy Group.
With that property, the center has room to expand without buying more land, Doordan said.
The medical center treated 8 percent more inpatients -- 21,618 -- last year than it did in 2001, the year it moved. Also last year, the center recorded the second-highest number of births of any hospital in the state, with 4,676.
Patients are demanding and receiving a wider range of services, hospital officials said. Doordan said the medical center staff last year performed hundreds of emergency angioplasties, procedures it could not have handled a few years ago. The technology requires more and different space, he said.
The hospital has hired Potomac-based health-care planner SKM Enterprises to oversee the nine-month look at expansion. It has also hired two Annapolis firms, Wheeler, Goodman and Masek & Associates and the Faux Group, to help with the process.
Both groups have experience working with the county planning process, said Doordan, who added that any expansion would conform to the county's small-area plan for Parole. Increased parking, probably garages, would have to be part of any expansion, he said.
Parole activists, who have battled development in some other cases, say they see no problems with the medical center expanding. "It's entirely appropriate," said Dinny White, who served on a committee that helped craft a land-use plan for the area.
County officials will have no direct role in planning the hospital's future, Doordan said.