Plan to close Maryland hospital draws mixed reactions

University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health plans to close Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace, Md., and replace it with a more limited-use hospital, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman supports the plan, which also involves expansion of UM UCH's other acute care hospital in Bel Air, Md.

"I understand it, because when you look at the capital market and the reimbursement rates [for healthcare], it makes sense to really do this type of hospital instead of investing in a full-service hospital," he told the Baltimore Sun.

Harford Memorial Hospital's replacement facility will include an emergency room, ambulatory care, diagnostic services and a full-service behavioral healthcare unit.

Mary Ann Lisanti, a democratic member of Maryland's house of delegates, has some concerns about the planned closure of Harford Memorial Hospital. "The new proposed [Havre de Grace] facility is not a hospital. It is a standalone medical facility," she told the Baltimore Sun.

The designation of a free-standing medical facility doesn't exist under Maryland law. Therefore, a change in state law will be required for UM UCH to follow through with its plan. Health system officials are working with the Maryland Hospital Association to pass legislation to create the free-standing designation, according to the report.

Del. Lisanti is working with fellow legislators on a bill that would require a state and local review process when a hospital operator wants to close or downgrade services at a healthcare facility.

UM UCH hopes to have the new Havre de Grace facility and the expansion of the Bel Air hospital completed in 2020.

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