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University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health plans $180M expansion

The University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health Wednesday announced an $180 million expansion that would include a new campus in Havre de Grace, an expansion of the medical center in Bel Air and a partnership with Union Hospital in Elkton.

“We’re looking at working to realign some services in the region,” said Dean Kaster, senior vice president of corporate strategy and business development for University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health. The proposed project is designed to specifically target the 360,000 residents of Harford and Cecil counties.

The new UM Harford Memorial Hospital near Bulle Rock in Havre de Grace, a property the hospital purchased several years ago, would span 194,000 square feet and offer a range of behavioral health services, emergency services and more outpatient care services. The new campus would be called University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center – Havre de Grace and is expected to cost around $118 million.

“We’re continuing to see an increase in behavioral health services both on the inpatient and outpatient side,” said Kaster, adding that the patients the hospital is serving and the type of care they need is changing.

The hospital is seeing more patients with a dual diagnosis, for instance, people with behavioral health problems combined with other problems related to drug addiction and alcoholism, said Kaster. The new campus will also have a geropsychiatric unit for patients over age 65 experiencing mental illnesses.

In a presentation outlining the project, the hospital cited infrastructure issues, costly renovations, difficulties expanding and physician recruitment and retention challenges as reasons for a new Havre de Grace campus. The new Bulle Rock facility would offer easy access to Interstate 95 and room to expand, hospital officials said.

The hospital is unsure about the future of the existing Havre de Grace hospital, but Kaster said officials are working with the city and county to find a use for that facility.

As part of the transition, some existing inpatient, intensive care and surgical services will be moved to the UM Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air. Around 100 medical professionals who work in Havre de Grace would transfer to Bel Air, said Kaster. Around 500 people would work at the new Havre de Grace campus.

The Upper Chesapeake Medical Center also would undergo a $62 million expansion to increase the hospital’s square footage by 52,000 to make room for 32 more beds.

The entire project is expected to start in early 2017 and be open for business by 2020 but is contingent on a series of legislative, regulatory and financing approvals. Hospital officials expect to get a lot of those approvals this year.

An economic impact study by Towson University estimated that the project would create 5,500 jobs, equivalent to $770 million in wages, and have $2.1 billion economic impact during the construction and renovation phase. The two facilities in Havre de Grace and Bel Air would employ 3,000 people, generate $800 million in wages and $2.1 billion in economic impact in the first three years.