Community Leaders Worry Over Potential Closing of Chestertown Ho - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Community Leaders Worry Over Potential Closing of Chestertown Hospital

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CHESTERTOWN, Md. - In 2015, state lawmakers and people in Chestertown saved the nearby hospital from closing its doors until at least 2020. The University of Shore Regional Health says it will keep the hospital's in-patient services until 2022. Still, many worry what will happen to the hospital after that deadline. Community leaders say a closure would be devastating, forcing them to turn to the state for help.

It's especially worrying for Heron Point Retirement Community's Executive Director Garret Falcone. Falcone says its 500-person residents and staff will suffer with the possibility of losing the Chestertown hospital, which sits just blocks away.

"It's a critical issue," Falcone said.

President Kurt Landgraf of Washington College also worries particularly with the impact to greater Kent County, including students and young professionals.

"This becomes a core economic development issue," Landgraf said. "We've been having an increasing problem keeping and retaining and attracting new young junior faculty members. In a county like this, this whole issue about the hospital is extraordinarily important and needs to be taken really seriously."

Shore Regional Health's Communications Director Trena Williamson says inpatient services are less needed thanks to advances in healthcare and therefore more "economical" to provide outpatient care.

The potential closure would divert in-patient healthcare in Chestertown farther south about an hour's drive away to Easton.

Now, people in Chestertown are now turning once again to the state, pulling in Comptroller Peter Franchot to find possible solutions.

"I'm all about reinventing ourselves," Franchot said. "We're all going to have to go through a transition in order to deal with the fact many acute care hospitals are simply not economically sustainable."

The University of Maryland Shore Regional Health campus in Cambridge is also planning to close its doors and will redirect its in-patient beds to Easton as well.

 

 

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