Hospital Union Leader Speaks Out Against MDH Plan That May Close Deer’s Head Hospital
Salisbury, MD- The Maryland Department of Health is announcing a plan to close potentially close three non-running state hospitals, and shift services away from 3 running ones including Deer’s Head Hospital in Salisbury.
It’s known as the Health Facilities Master Plan, a 20-year plan for the state of Maryland that proposes that in part that over the next 5 years 3 non-running state hospitals are divested.
Currently, 11 of the state’s 14 health facilities are open for service.
The proposal would also seek to transfer service away from certain operational facilities including Deer’s Head Hospital Center in Salisbury, Western Maryland Hospital Center in Hagerstown, and the Potomac Center with future 24-hour crisis centers to be built in yet to be determined locations.
MDH Director of Healthcare Systems Bryan Mroz told 47ABC that in the department’s view, the buildings in Salisbury and Hagerstown have become too costly to run and maintain, with infrastructure and building codes that are not up to the standards patients expect.
Mroz believes having new facilities would be cheaper than upgrading the existing facilities, especially for the Deer’s Head hospital.
“The cost per patient is quite high in the facility and the rooms that were originally established in 1950 that were appropriate at the time and fit those clinical models no longer fit them and retrofitting the rooms and facility is really cost-prohibitive,” he said.
Opponents of the proposal, including the President of AFSCME Council 3, the union that represents hospital workers in Deer’s Head Hospital, believe the quality of care from non-state-run facilities will go down for patients who require long-term care and will result in less competitive wages for workers.
AFSCME believes the new hospitals will be private and view the program as a push towards privatization from the Hogan administration with the winners of the change being the private healthcare industry, not patients.
“The losers are the patients because the quality of care will be based on the bottom line and the profit motive and its not going to be based on needs and therefore in private settings we see people in long term care perish sooner than those public settings,” said FSCME Council 3 President Patrick Moran.
He says he wants to see the state give more resources to those hospitals, to further support workers in facilities across the state and Deer’s Head in Salisbury.
Moran told 47abc that in the midst of the pandemic, he viewed the idea of closing hospitals as inappropriate and offensive to the patients and workers that rely on the hospitals for their care and employment.
He says his union will be lobbying to stop the state from in his view privatizing the state systems.
“We saw this same push this same effort from the Hogan administration in the past, and the community rallied around us to reject this, and we are hoping that same thing will happen with this recent effort,” he said.