Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park is making its second bid since 2006 to move to a larger campus in White Oak in Silver Spring.
The hospital would move most services to White Oak, maintaining some, but not emergency services, in Takoma Park. President Joyce Newmyer says the hospital’s operations are unsustainable in its current location, which is too small and outdated.
The hospital opened in 1907 as Montgomery County’s first hospital, spokeswoman Diana Troese wrote in the current Takoma Park Newsletter. Over the years, it has grown to a 252-bed hospital on 13 acres. It is owned by Adventist Healthcare of Gaithersburg, which also owns Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville and other medical facilities in the county.
“It is simply too expensive and impractical to renovate in place,” Newmyer said. Only 9 of the 13 acres are suitable for building, and all are in use. Rebuilding on the Takoma Park site would require a complete shutdown of the hospital, she said.
The project would cost $373 million, including $33 million in renovations to the existing Takoma Park campus. The new White Oak facility would have 201 beds on a 49-acre site, and would open in late 2018, pending local and state approval. It would have fewer beds, but the hospital wants to expand outpatient services.
The hospital has 1,300 employees and would hire more to staff the new facility.
Adventist withdrew its first application for a Certificate of Need from the state when the reviewing commissioner recommended that the Maryland Health Care Commission, which has the final say, deny it.
On Monday, Newmyer presented plans to the Takoma Park City Council, which expects to issue a resolution in the coming months with a position on the plans. The revised plan offers more details and calls for fewer beds at slightly less cost than the 2006 application.
Residents also listened to the presentation and offered feedback to hospital administrators and the council. Residents’ primary concern was that emergency services would be moved to the new location.
Services remaining in Takoma Park would include behavioral health, the women’s center, an inpatient rehabilitation unit, physician offices, a new federally qualified health care center, and several other clinics and outpatient services. Patients still could receive walk-in primary care.
About 55,000 of the 126,000 square feet would be leased to Washington Adventist University for about $1.5 million annually. The size of facilities across both locations would increase to 428,000 square feet, more than three times the size of the current hospital.
Newmyer said that due to Montgomery County’s moratorium on new free-standing emergency care facilities, it is impossible to keep emergency services in Takoma Park if the new hospital is built. The moratorium expires in 2015, but representatives from the Health Care Commission have told her not to include emergency services in the plan for Takoma Park because it will be denied.
Although the two campuses will be considered one hospital, she still was told the plan would not be accepted.
Still, residents urged the hospital and city staff to look into options to keep emergency services available, saying that in a life-threatening situation, patients might not survive a longer ambulance ride to White Oak.
The new site is about 6.7 miles northeast of the current hospital — about a 16-minute drive by Google maps’ estimate, though faster in an ambulance.
“They’ve probably save my life, twice, probably because they were close,” resident Barbara Muhlbacher said of Washington Adventist.
More information is available on the city’s website, and comments can be submitted to email@example.com or sent to Clerk at 7500 Maple Ave., Takoma Park, MD 20912.