University of Maryland Capital Region Health (formerly Dimensions Healthcare System) was founded in 1982 when Prince George’s County decided to privatize the county’s public hospitals, but its history is rooted in serving Prince George’s County residents since 1944.
On March 21, 1944, Prince George’s County opened Prince George’s General Hospital, a 100-bed hospital in Cheverly, Maryland. In its first 15 years, the hospital grew from 100 to 385 beds and became the central health care facility in Prince George’s County.
By the 1970s, the hospital was considered a major medical center in the D.C. metropolitan health care community. In the early 1970s, the hospital received designation as an area-wide trauma center, the second in Maryland, which established a much-needed service for the Southern Maryland region.
Teaching Facility and Health Network
By the late 1970s and 1980s, Prince George’s General Hospital had grown to become a center of medical education, serving as a teaching facility for seven specialties. It formed affiliations with 12 area colleges and universities, including the University of Maryland and Prince George’s Community College.
In 1978, an acute care regional hospital, Laurel Regional Hospital, opened. Then in 1979, the state’s first freestanding emergency medical facility opened (affiliated with Prince George’s General Hospital).
Privatizing Healthcare in Prince George’s County
In the late 1970s, the county faced management issues and operating deficits, leading to the decision to privatize the county hospital system, including Prince George’s General Hospital, Laurel Regional Hospital and the freestanding emergency department, now called University of Maryland Bowie Health Center.
In 1982, the Prince George’s County Council voted to discontinue the county’s hospital commission and established a private, not-for-profit corporation to lease and manage the county’s public hospitals. The new private corporation was named Community Hospital and Health Care Systems, which, in 1986, changed its name to Dimensions Health Corporation.