BOWIE – Regional University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) healthcare centers have a new name and a new partnership with Prince George’s County, but UMMS officials insist those changes will only lead to positives in the region.
Members of UMMS administration met with residents of Bowie on Nov. 13 through a presentation hosted by the city and Bowie’s representation on the county council, Todd Turner. The meeting was held like a forum where the medical system staff gave a presentation and then took questions from those gathered.
UMMS took over Dimensions Healthcare Systems-run hospitals and medical centers through a partnership with the county. The official transfer was Sept. 1, 2017.
“Obviously the Bowie Health Center and Dimensions Health have been an integral part of our public healthcare system here in Prince George’s County for years and what we’re trying to do is build upon that and strengthen that through the partnerships that we have,” Turner said.
Recently, UMMS rebranded the area medical centers under a new tier called University of Maryland Capital Region Health, and Turner said the county and UMMS are currently working through the integration of UMMS with former Dimensions centers.
The meeting on Nov. 13 largely focused on the regional vision for healthcare and how both the new regional medical center in Largo and the smaller UMMS facilities across the county fit into that vision.
Neil Moore, president of Capital Region Health, said, when thinking of the regional healthcare, UMMS sees more than just the beacon of the much-anticipated Prince George’s Regional Medical Center, but see the community centers as just as important – if not more.
He said the medical system has already started on the road of improving services to meet the needs of all of the residents in Prince George’s County, as well as Southern Maryland.
“The bottom line is that we want to have a system here where folks don’t have to go downtown in D.C. and in Montgomery County and Anne Arundel County to look for healthcare. We want it here,” said Alex Williams, a county resident and member of the UMMS Board of Directors.
The plan, laid out in the UMMS presentation to Bowie, is for the system to bring academic medicine to the county as it has to other regions in Maryland, said Mark Wasserman, senior vice president of external affairs for UMMS.
Overall the goal is to transform healthcare in the county, said Jeffery Johnson, senior vice president for strategic planning at UMMS, by developing a more “robust, financially viable healthcare delivery system in Prince George’s County that would improve access to care.”
In Bowie, specifically, plans included $7.4 million in renovations to the Bowie Health Center that were recently completed. A larger patient waiting area, more beds, and private rooms were all a part of that renovation. In addition, UMMS said it plans to increase the obstetrics practice and vascular surgery services in the center.
Countywide, UMMS wants to expand primary care, improve and expand trauma and critical care, emergency medicine and neonatology, as well as build upon the success of the Cardiac Surgery program at Prince George’s Hospital Center. Part of the county plan also includes the new regional health center that will expand neonatal services and add a cancer specialty unit.
“There are a number of medical specialties that are lacking in the county and there’s a shortage of certain physician specialties. We really see this as an opportunity to address the access of specialties for the county,” Johnson said.
Orlan Johnson, a longtime Bowie resident and a member of the UMMS Board of Directors, said the county has sought first-rate healthcare for more than 50 years and he believes UMMS is going to move Prince George’s in the right direction.
“The idea that we would ever see, what I would call, a first-class healthcare system that’s come into Prince George’s County, where we’re going to see implantations of here in Bowie and in other parts of the county, has really been something I’m not sure I would have thought I would have seen in my lifetime,” he said.
And there is more to come, Orlan Johnson said.
“I like to say that we don’t want to just be in the community but of the community and that’s’ what I believe we’re going to see once we get our chance to be here,” he said. “And we’re going to get it here.”