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AAMC can move forward with cardiac surgery program, judge rules

Anne Arundel Medical Center’s plans to create a cardiac surgery program can proceed, a Prince George’s County Circuit Court judge ruled Tuesday.

The Maryland Health Care Commission approved the new program’s certificate of need last year, but both Dimensions Health Care (now University of Maryland Capital Region Health) and the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center objected to the approval.

“Today’s ruling upholding the MHCC’s decision reinforces what we’ve known all along — our community needs and deserves improved access to high-quality cardiac care,” a statement issued by Anne Arundel Medical Center said. “We will continue our efforts to develop a high-quality cardiac surgery program and bring this critical service to the region.”

Baltimore Washington Medical Center had wanted to create its own program, but the health care commission decided that the area could only sustain one new cardiac surgery program. The larger Anne Arundel Medical Center won the certificate because of its size and a more central location in Annapolis, with easier access to the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan areas and the middle Eastern Shore.

“Throughout this process, UM Baltimore Washington Medical Center has been solely driven by our deep commitment to providing high quality health care to the communities we serve,” a hospital statement said. “We are disappointed in the judge’s ruling to uphold the Maryland Health Care Commission’s decision to award a new cardiac surgery program to Anne Arundel Medical Center. We stand by our position that a cardiac surgery program at (Baltimore Washington Medical Center) would provide the greatest benefit to the residents of the county without adversely impacting the cardiac surgery program in Prince George’s County at University of Maryland Capital Region Health.”

Dimensions opposed Anne Arundel’s application because it worried that a new cardiac surgery program would draw patients away from its recently approved program at Prince George’s Hospital Center (now University of Maryland Prince George’s Hospital Center). That program has become one of the hospital’s top-performing units and is expected to be a centerpiece of the new University of Maryland Capital Medical Center.

“UM Capital Region Health is disappointed with the very brief decision of the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, which affirmed the regulatory approval for a new cardiac surgery program at Anne Arundel Medical Center,” a statement from the system said. “UM Capital Region Health is evaluating options for further review of the decision.  It is especially concerned that the agency below and the Court failed to appropriately consider the adverse impact that a new cardiac surgery program at Anne Arundel Medical Center will have on the existing cardiac surgery program at UM Prince George’s Hospital Center as it rebuilds under the leadership of the University of Maryland Division of Cardiac Surgery.”

Both hospitals sought judicial intervention in the case, and Judge Beverly J. Woodard issued a stay last year, preventing Anne Arundel Medical Center from developing its program. That work can now proceed.

The hospital’s program is expected to be developed in conjunction with Johns Hopkins Medicine. The project is expected to cost $2.5 million.

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