Upper Chesapeake files application for proposed new medical facility in Aberdeen

Upper Chesapeake Health has filed its application with the state commission that will determine if the Harford County health care organization can move forward with a plan to open a combined campus in Aberdeen to treat medical emergencies and behavioral health patients.

The 70-page application, with hundreds of additional pages of supporting documents, for a Certificate of Need was filed by the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health Nov. 21 with the Maryland Health Care Commission, according to the commission’s website.

Upper Chesapeake is proposing to close Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace and open a combined free-standing medical facility and special psychiatric hospital on the 32-acre campus of Aberdeen Corporate Park on Route 22 near Middleton Road. The medical and surgical beds at Harford Memorial would be transferred to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air as part of an expansion of that hospital.

The combined cost of the projects is about $188.4 million, according to Upper Chesapeake.

Upper Chesapeake is hosting a public meeting on the plan Dec. 13 at the Aberdeen Fire Department at 21 N. Rogers St. to talk about its plans, Aberdeen Mayor Patrick McGrady said at Monday night’s Aberdeen City Council meeting.

“The process is still moving forward and they’re still aiming to start construction by August 2019,” McGrady said.

The purpose is for Upper Chesapeake to provide details on our “Your Health. Our Mission” plans to improve and expand health care in northeastern Maryland, according to a meeting announcement from Upper Chesapeake.

The meeting will include information about Upper Chesapeake’s plans for transitioning acute medical care services, job retraining and placement of team members; plans for repurposing the Harford Memorial Hospital property; the expansion plans at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air; and an overall time-line for the project.

Registration is available at 1-800-515-0044 or marketing@uchs.org.

The 69,300-square-foot free-standing medical facility will have a fully functional and full-service emergency department for patients with medical emergencies and will have a dedicated unit for patients suffering from behavioral health emergencies, according to Upper Chesapeake’s application for the state Certificate of Need.

It will have the ability to screen and transfer patients on-site to the behavioral health facility if an inpatient stay is needed, according to the application.

The free standing medical facility will support the medical needs of the 72,444-square-foot psych hospital by providing imaging, diagnostic, laboratory and pharmacy services to patients who need it.

Planned in the medical office building proposed for the site will be primary and specialty care physician services, outpatient radiology services, laboratory testing, pharmacy services and physical and occupational rehabilitation services.

The hospital system had been planning to build a similar campus in Havre de Grace, but abruptly pulled the plug on that project earlier this year.

Special psychiatric hospital

The proposed psychiatric hospital, with an estimated cost of $53.9 million, would include 40 inpatient beds in two neighborhoods, each will have access to a secure courtyard.

Fifteen beds will be dedicated to geriatric psychiatry to treat neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and/or dementia, and focused around a central great room with the activities of daily living, therapy, staff and support services.

The other 25 beds will be general adult population beds for male and female patients 18 and older, according to the Certificate of Need application.

To complement the psychiatric beds, UC Behavioral Health will provide a variety of outpatient services, including a partial hospitalization program, an intensive outpatient program and a variety of outpatient, ambulatory behavioral health services such as group and individual therapy and counseling services, which will allow patients to transition through multiple stages of treatment at one centralized location. The psych hospital will be connected to the outpatient programming space by a skywalk.

“The proposed special psychiatric hospital is part of an overall strategic plan by UM UCH to create an optimal patient care delivery system for the future health care needs of Harford and Cecil County residents,” according to the application.

Harford Memorial has 54 licensed medical, surgical, gynecological and addictions beds and 28 licensed psychiatric beds, while Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air has 138 medical, surgical, gynecological and addictions beds, 10 obstetrics beds and one pediatric bed.

The 28 psych beds would be transferred to the Aberdeen site and the remaining 54 beds would be transferred to Upper Chesapeake’s Bel Air hospital, where a three-level expansion would be built with one floor of shell space to allow for future expansion of Kaufman Cancer Center services, a cost of $81.8 million.

The project in Aberdeen is one of four considered by Upper Chesapeake and determined to “result in improved care coordination across UM UCH’s service area,” according to the application.

“The new special psychiatric hospital will be centrally located within UM UCH’s Service area and between the two remaining acute general hospitals in the service area – UCMC and Union Hospital,” according to the application. “This will lead to better patient access, better service to the populations of Harford and Cecil Counties, and improve behavioral health service provider recruitment and retention.”

Once a Certificate of Need is approved, the project is estimated to take 52 months to complete, including 23 months for building design, site approvals, permitting and pre-construction site work that includes extensive grading. Construction is expected to take 25 months.

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