State and Prince George’s County leaders have spent the past two years developing plans for a $645 million hospital that could offer better health care options within the county — but many residents described the medical facility as an opportunity for economic development in their communities.
“It would give us a new look,” Laura Ehle of Largo said during a meeting Feb. 28 to discuss the four proposed sites for the hospital. “It would be the catalyst for growth we’ve long envisioned for our Metro station.”
Representatives from the state and county government as well as leaders in the University of Maryland Medical System and Dimensions Healthcare presented to about 350 people the four possible sites: Woodmoore Towne Centre, Morgan Boulevard, Largo Town Center and Landover Mall.
The four sites were narrowed down from more than 30 based on their central placement in the county, their accessibility to U.S. I-495, access to mass transit options, and the cost and ease of purchasing a property and developing it, said David Iannucci, assistant deputy chief administrative officer for economic development and public infrastructure.
Responses from the meeting will be considered in the decision along with factors such as the site acquisition costs, officials said. No metrics or formula for measuring the value of the differing needs of a hospital have been developed, Iannucci said.
“It’s going to be a subjective judgment of what works best for this community,” he said. “This isn’t going to be a math problem.”
County, state and health care officials have until the fall to select a site and present a Certificate of Need, which outlines the area health needs that justify a hospital to the Maryland Health Care Commission. The certificate will have to show that the county either has ownership of the proposed hospital site or is working to attain it, said Bradford L. Seamon, county chief administrative officer. Groundbreaking for the new hospital is planned for 2014 with the facility opening in 2017. Under a 2011 memorandum of understanding, the county and state government will each pay about $200 million toward the hospital, while the rest will be carried by the hospital system, Seamon said. The hospital system will be a revamped and most likely re-branded Dimensions, that will fall under the UMMS umbrella, Seamon said.
All the areas under consideration are broad tracts of land that include hundreds of acres, some of which are developed, but Iannucci said officials anticipate only using around 40 acres or as little as 20 acres for the hospital.
“A hospital would definitely be a plus for this area,” said Stephanie Anderson, president of the Royal Gardens Civic Association near Landover Mall. “If you build a state-of-the-art hospital, people will come.”
Regardless of which site gets the project, moving forward with a new hospital would be a win for the area, said Dan Smith of Cheverly.
“It’s not about saving one neighborhood,” he said. “It represents a beginning of real change.”