Laurel Regional to be replaced by outpatient facility

Laurel Regional Hospital to be replaced by outpatient facility by 2018

The board of Dimensions Healthcare System, owners of Laurel Regional Hospital, voted to replace Laurel Regional with a new, $24 million ambulatory care center by 2018, Dimensions officials said Friday.

The change is an effort to curb the multi-million dollar losses Laurel Regional has seen in recent years, and will result in limited hospital services as well as considerable job loss in Laurel as the new facility will only provide 30 inpatient beds.

The move is part of a state trend to move health care out of inpatient hospitals and into outpatient facilities, Dimensions said. The new Laurel facility would continue to provide emergency services, outpatient surgery and diagnostic services currently offered by Laurel Regional. The county has plans to create a Prince George's Regional Medical Center, which would provide the full-service medical support no longer found in Laurel. 

Laurel Mayor Craig Moe said he was not briefed in advance on the decision by Dimensions’ board to close Laurel Regional.

Moe blamed the move on "poor leadership and management on the part of Dimensions Healthcare System."

Kaufman Hal, consultants working for Dimensions, provided various scenarios for the hospital’s future, including scaling back services and reducing the number of inpatient beds, but converting the facility to an outpatient care center was seen as the best way to stop losing money, according to information released by Dimensions.

The new ambulatory facility is expected to include an emergency room; outpatient surgery suites; diagnostic, imaging and radiology services; and preventive care services.

The hospital opened as Greater Laurel Beltsville Hospital in 1978. By 2000, the hospital was financially strapped.

The bulk of the hospital's difficulties have come in the last decade, as the hospital suffered financially along with the rest of the Prince George's County healthcare system, which includes Prince George's Hospital Center and Bowie Health Center, due to Dimensions mismanagement.

Dimensions problems were so bad — they ran a $54 million deficit for the Prince George's system between 1999 and 2004 — that an oversight committee recommended the county sever ties with the organization in February 2005.

In 2011, a partnership that was formed between the University of Maryland Medical System, the University System of Maryland and Dimensions Healthcare System in an effort to stabilize and expand health care in the county brought new life to Laurel Regional. The hospital’s emergency department was staffed with University of Maryland Medical System physicians and in 2012, John Spearman, a senior vice president at the University of Maryland Medical System, took over as Laurel Regional's president.

Moe said that the consultant's report that led to the decision to close Laurel Regional did not address the possibility of selling the hospital and the campus, which would take it out from under Dimensions Healthcare.

"Until the Dimensions Healthcare System is replaced, I believe this poor substitute will fail as well," Moe said in a released statement. "The Laurel-Beltsville area and Prince George's County residents deserve better."

This story  has been updated.

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