Prince George’s County officials say they hope a partnership with the University of Maryland Medical System will provide more doctors to share their expertise and encourage residents to seek health assistance within the county.
While the effort kicked off July 1 at Laurel Regional Hospital, UMMS will begin providing similar support to the emergency departments at two other facilities operated by Dimensions Healthcare System in coming months, said John O’Brien, Dimensions’ chief operating officer. UMMS will provide doctors and oversee care at the Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly in August and then Bowie Health Center in 2013, O’Brien said.
“This is a very exciting time to be a part of this organization,” said O’Brien, who is also president of the Prince George’s Hospital Center. “We’re on the threshold of being able to dramatically improve the quality of care and service for the people of Prince George’s County.”
As the process moves forward, Dimensions may see changes and perhaps even an increase to the 40 or so doctors who work in DHS’ emergency departments, O’Brien said.
“I like teaching hospitals,” said Oxon Hill resident Brian Morris who works as a business consultant.”They have young initiative and young energy.”
Glenarden resident Sylvia Quinton, who works with the Prince George's Healthcare Action Coalition on advising the county’s health department on how to meet the public’s needs, said she is looking forward to the partnership.
“We’re developing a health care system instead of a fragmented system,” said Quinton, a public health attorney. “This is probably the first step in the process.”
The cooperation between the county health centers and UMMS would be a boon to the quality of care residents receive and would aid the county in addressing issues such as HIV treatment and access to care, said Pamela Creekmur, the county’s health officer.
“The University of Maryland can only benefit us as a county,” said Creekmur, a registered nurse. “I think collaboration is the key to our county solving some of the issues we have regarding health care.”
About 63 percent of Prince George’s County residents who receive inpatient treatment and 31 percent of those who receive emergency room care get that care outside the county according to a 2009 study by the Rand Corp, a California-based nonprofit organizations with offices in Arlington, Va. In Montgomery County, 23 percent of people receive inpatient treatment outside Montgomery County and only about 12 percent receive emergency room care outside, according to the study.
The partnership will provide the experience and expertise of an academic hospital with the community hospitals in the county, said Debbie Wilkes, a registered nurse and member of Service Employees International Union local chapter 1199, which represents the nurses and support staff who work for Dimensions.
The union has long supported Dimensions more closely integrating with an academic medical center in order to expand the in-house knowledge and expertise, she said.
“We’re excited for some of the changes that could be forthcoming,” Wilkes said.