Save Healthcare in Harford County
Dear Mr. Steffen:
As team members of the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health (UM UCH), we are concerned about the delays in approving our plans for a specialty psychiatric hospital and freestanding medical facility in Aberdeen, as well as the expansion of our campus in Bel Air. We are also surprised to learn that the Maryland Health Care Commission wants to decrease the number of desperately needed acute care beds that we requested for our overall plans and that there is lack of support for the psychiatric inpatient beds in Aberdeen.
As the people who care for our community 24/7, we know what happens when there are not adequate hospital beds for us to deliver the best quality care. Health care is changing quickly because it needs to. Community members who rarely use hospital services have not seen these changes like we have. For over two years now, we have experienced very high volumes in our ED and, ultimately, our nursing units. Unfortunately, this is our new normal. Many of our patients discharge within two days. We work hard to safely manage their medical issues, and then stabilize and discharge them into an outpatient setting for further care, only to have another full load of patients replace them on an almost daily basis. Meanwhile, our outpatient services in Bel Air have grown with our Kaufman Cancer Center, Diabetes Center, Wound Care, and more. The Bel Air campus needs to expand to cover all of these needs. By not supporting the proposed medical/surgical and observation bed capacity needed on our Bel Air campus, we put our ability to provide timely, lifesaving care at risk.
We also see, firsthand, the rising trend of mental health disorders. We are very proud of the mental health work we have done at UM Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace, and anxiously await the construction of a new, modern behavioral health facility in Aberdeen. Mood disorders remain a top reason for admission to Harford Memorial. If we move our mental health beds to Bel Air, it would not only inundate an already crowded facility, but it would also seriously affect how well we can coordinate mental health care in Havre de Grace and Aberdeen. The recently opened Klein Family Harford Crisis Center addresses our mental health needs in Bel Air. We are counting on the new mental health facility in Aberdeen to meet the increased needs of this population located in the more rural settings of our service area. The distance between these campuses is over 15 miles, and public transportation would be a real problem for this vulnerable population.
We all chose health care as a career to help people, and we are fortunate enough to serve in a community where many of us live. This is not just our job; it affects us personally. We use UM UCH for our own care as well as refer our families, friends and neighbors. We have been working in very crowded conditions for over two years, with no end in sight. These campus plans were developed with our real needs in mind and the ability to grow into the future. Please approve the modified applications submitted by UM UCH.
The UM UCH Team Members