A Maryland Health Care Commission reviewer says Washington Adventist Hospital’s application to relocate from Takoma Park to a new Silver Spring facility should be denied.
“At its core, I am recommending denial because the applicant has not shown that the project is financially feasible and will be viable in the future,” Commissioner Barbara McLean wrote in a 174-page recommendation sent to other commissioners and interested parties and released Tuesday. McLean was selected to review the plan for the panel.
The full, 15-member commission is to make a final decision when it meets Oct. 18.
The new hospital, which would cost an estimated $398 million to build on a 48-acre campus in the White Oak section of Silver Spring, would offer the same inpatient and outpatient services as the current hospital.
The proposal also includes plans for health care services at a redeveloped version of the Takoma Park hospital, including urgent care, primary care and the current services of the Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland. The Takoma Park site redevelopment would cost an estimated $20 million.
“We are not giving up in our efforts to make the full commission understand the regional importance of this project. At this time, we are carefully reviewing the recommendation and are drafting a formal response to the Commission,” Joyce Newmyer, president of Washington Adventist Hospital, said in a statement.
Newmyer said the new site would have several advantages over the current location and that the project is supported by thousands of community members, according to an email sent to The Gazette by Lydia Parris, the hospital’s director of public relations and marketing.
“The new site in White Oak allows better access to the hospital via major roads, more space for clinical services within the hospital and doctor's offices on campus and more parking compared to our current location,” Parris said in the email.
McLean said in her recommendation that relocation could be “viable” if the hospital were to reconsider how the population in the hospital’s service area might change.
She also said the move’s potential effect on other hospitals “would not constitute a basis for denial of the project.”
Takoma Park Mayor Bruce Wiliams, who said he had not had a chance to read through the document, said the city council has started meeting with hospital representatives on a monthly basis. The council’s goal, Williams said, is to “protect access to health care” for residents in Takoma Park and nearby.
Holy Cross Hospital of Silver Spring, Laurel Regional Hospital and the MedStar Montgomery Medical Center in Olney, which have all opposed the relocation plan, and the city of Takoma Park are among the interested parties in the case.
Washington Adventist Hospital and the other parties have until Sept. 26 to submit written arguments backing or opposing McLean’s recommendation, and until Oct. 9 to respond to the other parties’ arguments. They also can present an oral summary of their arguments to the commission members Oct. 18.
“I hope that [Adventist HealthCare] and [Washington Adventist Hospital] will seriously and constructively consider the issues raised in my Recommended Decision and promptly move to develop a new plan to achieve the important objectives addressed in this application so that the future of both ... can be assured,” McLean wrote.
The hospital’s parent, Adventist HealthCare of Rockville, was dealt a blow last year when the health care commission rejected its application to build a new hospital in Clarksburg. The panel instead approved Holy Cross Hospital’s application for a new hospital in nearby Germantown.