HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. — Built during World War II and expanded during the Vietnam conflict, Harford Memorial Hospital has been placed on life-support during the throngs of this pandemic.
“The rush to get this done in the middle of a global pandemic is suspect,” said Havre de Grace Mayor Bill Martin. “The fact that the governor has us under a stay at home order, but yet you have a public body in Baltimore holding a hearing.”
A hearing of the Maryland Health Care Commission, which includes a bid by the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health System to close Harford Memorial and to build a freestanding medical facility in Aberdeen.
It argues the hospital has outlived its useful life and has no adjacent land suitable for expansion.
Debbie Adams says the hospital represents far more than bricks and mortar to her.
“This hospital is Havre de Grace to me,” said Adams. “This hospital means a lot to me. I was born in this hospital, my children were born in this hospital and I graduated from Harford Memorial Nursing School in 1974 here.”
Under the proposed plan, critics fear the Aberdeen facility would not be able to handle Priority 1 patients, such as those suffering major heart attacks, which would mean sending them 20 minutes away to Bel Air.
But ultimately, the commission sealed the hospital’s fate leaving opponents like Martin wondering why.
“University of Maryland Medical System obviously had some issues a year ago with Healthy Holly and all their board members,” said Martin. “And I would say, ‘Just keep coming up Route 40 into Harford County and take a closer look at Upper Chesapeake’, and just hold them accountable to make sure they’re making decisions that are best for the citizens of Havre de Grace.”
The mayor adds the Maryland Health Care Commission has already posted letters of approval online suggesting that it’s already a done deal and this decision was made at least a day before the meeting.