Merger followed 'difficult but necessary' decision on future of Laurel Regional [Commentary]

Laurel Leader

On Sept. 1, the Board of Directors of Dimensions Healthcare System (DHS) took the final vote to merge with the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) and UMMS became the sole corporate member of DHS. What was once the Dimensions Healthcare System will now be called University of Maryland Capital Region Health.

It is a "sea change" for healthcare in the Washington area that will positively impact over a million people. The Board of Directors of DHS made a series of very difficult decisions over the last five years to make this happen. This included the transformation of Laurel Regional Hospital to a free-standing medical facility that will in the long term save significant taxpayer funds, while still meeting the medical needs of the community. As the UMMS press release said: “the difficult but necessary” decision to transform the Laurel campus. The funds saved (and the system was losing $20 million a year just in Laurel) will be able to go towards areas that desperately need attention. Although this decision was initially opposed by some leaders, a continued dialogue with UMMS has resulted, I believe, in them learning and acknowledging the significant challenges currently facing healthcare. I was pleased that those local leaders appear to have joined in supporting this decision by the Board as the best course of action.

We have now taken a significant step forward to deliver the level of healthcare services our community deserves. I am just glad to have been a part of this change for the better with other elected officials, community leaders and doctors who comprised the Board of Directors at Dimensions Healthcare System. It means even more that the leaders of our community, many of whom are my personal friends, are supporting this positive outcome after the past several years of opposition.

Prince George’s County and all of southern Maryland deserve the best, and that is what we have delivered as the new Regional Medical Center to be built in Largo becomes the southern hub of the UMMS and we build a new facility on our Laurel campus. Our aspirational goal continues to be a southern Maryland medical school and our new facilities will be built with that in mind. While new facilities are important, training doctors and other healthcare professionals in our facilities is equally important. We see a future with the best in facilities, technology and talent.

C. Philip Nichols Jr.

Laurel

C. Philip Nichols Jr. served as chairman of the board of Dimensions Healthcare System from 2011 to 2017.

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