–Dimensions Healthcare System Board of Directors Votes to Adopt Innovative Approach to Improve Population Heath –
Cheverly, Maryland, July 31, 2015 – The Board of Dimensions Healthcare System agreed to an innovative approach to enhance the health of the population served by Laurel Regional Hospital by reducing the scope and complexity of inpatient services, while simultaneously constructing a comprehensive ambulatory medical facility dedicated to preventive care and keeping people out of the hospital. The new ambulatory facility, which is expected to cost approximately $24 million with a projected completion date of 2018, will include emergency services, outpatient surgery and comprehensive diagnostic imaging, and is expected to be built on the existing hospital campus. During the transition, there are no changes planned to the emergency, diagnostic imaging and outpatient surgery services currently provided at Laurel Regional Hospital.
For several years, Laurel Regional Hospital has been experiencing significant declines in inpatient utilization, consistent with national trends for small community hospitals. Turnaround efforts led to an increase in admissions in 2013. However, the hospital has been unable to sustain that growth due to a rapidly changing and highly competitive healthcare environment. Total admissions at the hospital have declined by nearly 20% since 2013. As a result of declining inpatient admissions, the hospital is expected to post a significant operating loss in the current fiscal year. In fact, current losses have been trending for more than six years and the hospital is projected to sustain continuing multimillion dollar deficits unless the current configuration of services is changed. The new ambulatory services facility, by contrast, is forecasted to operate without losses based on analysis conducted by the national healthcare consulting firm Kaufman Hall.
With the reduction and ultimate elimination of inpatient beds at Laurel Regional Hospital, employment at the site will be reduced. However, Dimensions Healthcare System (DHS) will minimize job losses by offering as many displaced employees as possible comparable positions at Prince George’s Hospital Center and other DHS facilities. Laurel Regional Hospital will phase out all but 30 licensed medical/surgical inpatient beds later this year. It will retain existing behavioral health, rehabilitation and chronic care beds until the new ambulatory care facility is built.
Healthcare is changing rapidly in how it is delivered, funded and regulated. Transitioning Laurel Regional Hospital to an ambulatory care facility is a prudent response to new priorities established by Maryland health regulators to invest in enhancing population health and in services that make the community healthier. The decision to focus on population health embraces the evolving definition of a hospital’s responsibility to the community.
Immediately following the Board’s vote, DHS began informing state and federal health regulators, the employee union, and federal, state and local elected officials of the decision. DHS will also work with Prince George’s County officials and other healthcare providers in the region to address service needs that may be affected, such as behavioral health.