So, what the heck to do about the big hole that used to be the hospital?
The council and the city attorney had a game of catch and toss with a bunch of ideas and suggestions to keep some kind of health care facility in the city
The Washington Adventist Hospital (WAH) is leaving, or so it hopes. It has to get state approval before it does, but other than that, it is all ready to move to an upcounty, suburban location remote from all the uninsured poor people in our area who flood their emergency room, cutting into their profit margin.
WAH has said it would help the city keep a health facility here, but the council wants more than an oral agreement. The question is; what sort of agreement? The city could work with the Maryland Health Care Commission, making them the enforcer of any promises WAH makes, but Susan Silber, the city attorney, felt that might not be reliable. The Commission, she said, has never had to deal with a situation like this one, and seems reluctant to take on the unfamiliar role of enforcer.
The alternative would be to enter into an agreement directly between the city and the hospital. Questions that arose were: How long should the agreement be? How the city would have the expertise to ask for the right thing.
One hundred years was suggested – that being the period of time the hospital was located in Takoma Park. Twenty to thirty years, a generation, was also suggested. Mayor Bruce Williams thought a ten year revue, such as is done for city master plans, would be appropriate, too.
The council does know that the city wants an urgent care facility – this based on a report of the Health Services Impact Committee. That committee also recommended a fitness and preventative-care facility and space for primary care physicians.
As this was just a session to share ideas on the subject, there were no concrete proposals.
The council has been dealing with fairly mundane stuff over the past two weeks, approving speed humps, a new police cruiser, reports on state legislature activity of interest to the city, a small budget amendment. and so forth.