Last February, I offered my enthusiastic support for UM Upper Chesapeake Health’s Vision 2020 Plan and its proposed implementation at its 97 acre site in Havre de Grace near Bulle Rock. As CEO of Lorien Health Services, which has a nursing and rehabilitation facility in Havre de Grace also near Bulle Rock, it should come as no surprise that I am disappointed that Upper Chesapeake and the City of Havre de Grace were not able to resolve their differences concerning infrastructure for the proposed development.
But the benefits of Upper Chesapeake’s plan are so important that I remain steadfast in my support of this critical health care project now slated for construction in nearby Aberdeen. Simply stated, Upper Chesapeake’s Vision 2020 Plan will create a forward thinking regional health system that delivers coordinated, accessible, and sustainable resident-centered care in modern state of the art facilities.
I also want to address what I think are some misunderstandings about the project. Vision 2020 is most certainly not a ‘fiasco’ as your recent editorial characterized it. The Maryland Health Care Commission’s decision to pause its required review of Upper Chesapeake’s Certificate of Need (CON) application was not a reflection of any identified concerns with the project’s merits. Rather, it was done at Upper Chesapeake’s request to allow it time to resolve its differences with Havre de Grace over funding access costs from I-95 to the site. CON reviews are site specific and are quite detailed in every aspect of a project from need for the services to financial feasibility and other factors. All issues raised by opponents or those with questions about the project will be fully explored and resolved during the CON review.
It is true that interest rates are rising, as your editorial pointed out. However, they remain reasonable and Upper Chesapeake appears to be moving with deliberate speed to take advantage of favorable financing options. Likewise, changing health care needs and demographics are a major focus of Upper Chesapeake’s project planning. The CON review will likewise examine these issues very closely to confirm that Vision 2020 meets the community’s needs now and for the foreseeable future.
Finally, as a proud member of Harford County’s health care provider community, I have great confidence in Upper Chesapeake’s CEO Lyle E. Sheldon and the entire leadership team. I ask all concerned to examine the team’s very successful track record and have confidence in their vision.
This is the same team that made the historic decision to move Fallston General Hospital, with its obsolete physical plant, to a new state of the art facility in Bel Air. This is the same team that decided to affiliate with the University of Maryland and its critical specialty programs. This is the same team that decided to establish the Kaufman Cancer Center on the Bel Air campus. This is the same team that decided to boldly address the opioid crisis and behavioral health needs including opening of the Crisis Center. And this is the same team that decided to recognize the need to evolve the hospitals’ roles from small community providers to becoming a major regional health care system affiliated with the State of Maryland’s flagship hospital system. These and other achievements all occurred while Upper Chesapeake remained under local leaders, such as Mr. Sheldon, who reside in the community. These major accomplishments reflect the leadership team’s skill, vision, dedication, and ability to deliver results.
For all these reasons, I proudly support University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health’s leadership team and its Vision 2020 as it moves forward with plans for its Aberdeen campus. I urge all residents and stakeholders to join in support of this critical undertaking.
Louis G. Grimmel Sr.
CEO, Lorien Health Services
Lorien Health Services operates nursing and rehabilitation facilities in Bel Air and Havre de Grace. Editor