For Immediate Release June 29, 2021

Three women and a man stand around talking. One woman is talking and gesturing with her hands. Two of the women are dressed in scrubs.

Dennis Welsh, left, is shown at a “Meet and Greet” in the Shore Medical Center at Chestertown courtyard with hospital team members Beverley Greaves, RN, Rebecca King, RN and Susan Ingersoll. 

The transformation of University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Chestertown is moving forward as planned, as the hospital proceeds toward a Maryland Rural Hospital designation, the first in the state of Maryland.

Recent milestones reached on the journey include a series of "town hall" presentations to community members, medical staff providers and Chestertown-based employees of University of Maryland Shore Regional Health. These virtual presentations included an overview of the new models of care that will support the hospital's continued role as an anchor institution in Kent and Queen Anne's communities, and also its ability to tailor its health care programs to better serve the needs of residents in the region, complemented with the creation of an Aging and Wellness Center of Excellence.

"These town halls provided an overview of what the new Maryland Rural Hospital designation includes and offered specific details associated with the hospital-based services we will be offering as we transition to our new models of care," said Ken Kozel, President and CEO, UM Shore Regional Health. "It also gave us the opportunity to share our plans for the exciting new model of healthcare delivery and the Aging and Wellness Center of Excellence we are developing in Chestertown, designed to promote health and wellness in our community. I think it was a great opportunity for us to remain transparent with our plans and to obtain valuable feedback from our community and I sincerely thank all who participated in these virtual discussions."

Recently, Dennis Welsh, Vice President, Rural Health Care Transformation and Executive Director, UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown, and Lara Wilson, Director of Rural Health Care Transformation, both new additions to the hospital staff, held informal "meet and greet" events for Chestertown team members in the hospital courtyard. They also hosted a dinner meeting for physicians and advanced care practitioners serving Kent and northern Queen Anne's counties.

"We wanted to update our local providers on our advancement towards the hospital's new Maryland Rural Hospital designation," Welsh said. "We also discussed steps we have initiated for our Chestertown hospital to achieve the designation of an Age-Friendly Health System, along with actions we are taking to initiate new programs under our Aging and Wellness Center of Excellence."

Local physicians in attendance at the dinner responded positively to the presentation, in particular the expanded opportunities for access to specialty care in Chestertown and wider use of telemedicine. "The meeting went very well and we are looking forward to more meetings being scheduled in the future," said Christopher Parry, DO, of Shore Medical Group – Urology in Chestertown.

Rural areas generally see a higher percentage of older adults within their communities, and the number of those 65 and older is increasing rapidly across the United States. The Age-Friendly Health System (AFHS) designation is an initiative launched by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, recognizing that older adults have unique needs. Becoming an AFHS designated hospital entails reliably providing a set of evidenced-based, geriatric interventions across four core elements, known as the 4 M's (What Matters, Medication, Mentation and Mobility).

Complementing the drive toward AFHS designation for the Chestertown hospital is the anticipated arrival of a new emergency medicine physician with geriatric emergency care certification, expertise that is essential to the hospital's emergency services earning special designation as a Geriatric Emergency Department (GED). Achieving these milestones will ensure UM SRH remains at the forefront of providing best practices to care for the unique needs of the elderly population.

"As a health care provider and a community partner, we recognize UM Shore Regional Health's responsibility to ensure that older adults have the best care available," said Kozel. "To achieve this goal, we must recognize and adapt the way we care for our patients to assure that those who trust us for their health care experience safe, effective and compassionate care. The AFHS certification and the GED designation will align our core values as an organization with the health care programs and services we offer."