The proposed new Prince George’s Regional Medical Center earned the support of a crucial state regulator last week, moving the long-gestating project even closer to final approval.
Commissioner Robert E. Moffit, who is reviewing the project for the Maryland Health Care Commission, recommended in a Sept. 30 letter that the panel approve the project’s application for a certificate of need — without which a hospital cannot be built.
The project’s impact on health care delivery in Prince George’s County “has the potential to be revolutionary,” Moffit wrote.
The full commission is slated to discuss the matter at its Oct. 20 meeting.
Maryland law requires certificates of need be obtained to prevent an excessive supply of health care services from developing, which could then drive up health care costs.
The Regional Medical Center in Largo is slated to replace the aging Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly.
Dimensions Health Corporation, which operates the current hospital, submitted the application for the project, but the new facility will be run by the University of Maryland Medical System. Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital, which operates a 15-bed pediatric unit at the hospital, is also a partner and co-applicant in the new project.
The project was initially projected to cost more $639 million — with the state and the county each contributing more than $200 million — but Moffit argued earlier this year that the project was too expensive, in part due to a projected decline in hospital usage statewide. Applicants submitted a scaled-back proposal in August, reducing the overall to $543 million.
The revised proposal took the number of hospital beds from 216 to 2015, operating rooms from eight to nine, emergency-department bays from 52 to 45 and the cost of construction from $285 million to $225 million.
Moffit also recommended that the applicants consider moving the Mt. Washington unit to a separate facility to reduce costs, but they responded in August that the new medical center was the only facility that would be able to provide the pediatric unit with the services it needs.
While Moffit’s criticism initially drew fire from Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., a Democrat whose district includes a portion of Prince George’s County, Miller said in a statement in August that the revised plan didn’t change the project substantially and that he’d been assured the quality of the new hospital would not be diminished.