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UM Capital Region Health to appeal AAMC certificate of need ruling

University of Maryland Capital Region Health has appealed a Prince George’s County judge’s decision to allow Anne Arundel County Medical Center to proceed with a new cardiac surgery program.

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.

“UM Capital Region Health’s top priority is providing patient care to the community and continuing positive steps to improve health care delivery to Prince George’s County and surrounding region,” the medical system said in a statement. “We have therefore appealed the latest ruling in which the Circuit Court affirmed the Maryland Health Care Commission’s decision to award a cardiac surgery CON to Anne Arundel Medical Center.”

The University of Maryland Capital Region Health worries that a new cardiac surgery program at Anne Arundel Medical Center 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.

“We are concerned that the Commission and the Circuit Court failed to appropriately consider the adverse impact that a new cardiac surgery program at AAMC will have on the existing cardiac surgery program at UM Prince George’s Hospital Center at this critical juncture in its evolution as it rebuilds under the leadership of the University of Maryland Division of Cardiac Surgery,” the system’s statement said.

At the same time that Capital Region Health said it would appeal, the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center said it would not appeal the decision.

“We have decided that is in the best interest of UM BWMC not to appeal this decision,” the hospital said in a statement. “We are proud of our high-quality cardiac care program and we will continue to develop those services to meet the needs of our community.”

Anne Arundel Medical Center said in a statement that the appeal would just continue to delay the program’s development and could affect lives.

“There is no legal basis to reverse the (Maryland Health Care Commission) unanimous approval of our cardiac surgery CON, and the Prince George’s County Circuit Court decision to uphold it,” the medical center said. “The delays to date have already cost the state of Maryland millions of dollars. Every day that goes by, real lives are impacted.”

University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center had wanted to create its own program, but the health care commission decided 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.

“We are certainly disappointed with the Circuit Court’s recent decision to uphold the MHCC’s decision to award a cardiac surgery program only to Anne Arundel Medical Center,” the hospital said in its statement. “Throughout this process, we have consistently maintained that University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center would be the best option for a cardiac surgery program, which would provide access for our community while not having significant impact on another program.”

Anne Arundel Medical Center’s new program will be developed in conjunction with Johns Hopkins Medicine and the project is expected to cost $2.5 million.

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