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UMMS affiliation in Prince George’s looks to revitalize health care in county


Construction of a new hospital in Largo, the University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center, is set to break ground later this year. (Submitted rendering)

The University of Maryland Medical System formally affiliated Friday with Dimensions Healthcare System, ushering in a new era for beleaguered hospitals and health centers in Prince George’s County.

The new affiliation will be known as University of Maryland Capital Region Health. Dimensions facilities in the county have been rebranded as University of Maryland facilities.

“Given that Maryland and its population of nearly a million people with a health care system that needs significant improvement and access, we feel that (the University of Maryland Medical System) is really in a position to deliver great care to one of the largest counties in the state,” said Alison Brown, senior vice president and chief strategy officer for the medical system.

In Prince George’s County, the system will encounter a population with a history of chronic diseases and a tendency to seek medical care in other jurisdictions.

A 2011 report by the University of Maryland School of Public Health found that county residents have higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, asthma and cancer than those in neighboring counties. It also found that many residents look outside the county for health care.

While many go outside the county because of the reputation of the county’s existing health care facilities, that could change with the rebranding, said Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters, D-Prince George’s.

“I think it’s going to bring more patients to the Bowie Health Center,” he said. “They do a great job now, but the branding of having the University of Maryland there brings it up another level.”

The partnership with the University of Maryland Medical System will also bring physicians from the university’s School of Medicine into Prince George’s County, where doctors will address chronic disease.

“Along with the name will be an increasing presence of involvement of physicians from the School of Medicine working side-by-side with physicians who have been practicing in the community,” Brown said. “The need for additional specialists who are skilled in working with people who have prevalent chronic diseases is clear.”

One of the primary problems for the county’s facilities has been the perception of the Prince George’s Medical Center in Cheverly. The aging facility has been a place county residents try to avoid, rather than seek out, for care.

Construction of a new hospital in Largo, the University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center, is set to break ground later this year. The facility will be a teaching hospital and include the certificate of need for open heart surgery recently acquired by the existing hospital.

The new hospital’s programs and branding could help rehabilitate the county’s health care reputation.

“I think the open heart license that the University of Maryland has through Dimensions, they’ve had fantastic results,” Peters said. “They’re nationally ranked because they’ve been bringing in a lot of high-level physicians.”

Another upgrade could happen in Laurel, where renovation of the University of Maryland Laurel Regional Hospital could re-engage a community turned off by a decision to cease inpatient care.

All of the system’s health centers in the county will include increased telemedicine capabilities to connect patients to University of Maryland specialists, even when those specialists are not available in Prince George’s.

The University of Maryland Medical System has been involved in trying to rehabilitate the county’s health care since 2011, when a memorandum of understanding was signed between the county, the state, the University System of Maryland, the medical system and Dimensions to develop a comprehensive plan for the future of health care in the county.

The University of Maryland Capital Region Health board will initially consist of seven members. In January of 2019, that interim board will be replaced with a 17-to-21-person board.

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