Frequently Asked Questions
Subject: What is happening today to prepare for how UM UCH delivers care in the future?
Care Where You Are:
UM UCH providers are able to provide support for residents of skilled nursing facilities, such as Lorien, by using innovative telemedicine technology. Urgent care needs are evaluated through two-way video calls that remotely interview patients and review important clinical data—all to help prevent an unnecessary return trip to the hospital. This is particularly helpful for our senior neighbors with memory difficulties who can be most impacted by changes in treatment locations. This program was among the first in the state to be funded by the Maryland Healthcare Commission.
We want to improve the health and quality of life in our community, especially for those with extensive health care needs. Our Comprehensive CARE Center, which opened in 2014, does just that, by identifying and addressing medical and support needs for Medicare patients after hospitalization. The CARE Center team includes physicians, nurse practitioners and nurse care managers who help to navigate individual needs between appointments; social workers to help with non-medical support needs; and a pharmacist to explain complicated medication lists. If necessary, the team even makes house calls, as well as joins the patient during a specialist appointment when hands-on support is needed. The CARE Center and WATCH (Wellness Action Teams of Cecil and Harford counties) programs work together with community partners, including primary care providers, to help with:
- Care for conditions like diabetes, congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Education and support for these conditions and others that are chronic and debilitating if not addressed
- In-home coaching to help with self-care
- Home video conferencing with medical and social services experts to provide information
- Connections with community resources to fill gaps in need
Through these unique programs, we are extending care from our hospitals directly to the community, and avoiding emergency department visits for many of our neighbors.
Subject: UM Harford Memorial Hospital Re-Use
Why are we proposing to transition from the university of Maryland Harford Memorial Hospital (UM HMH) facility?
Even though we have appropriately maintained the building, the UM HMH property has outlived its useful life. Transitioning to a new facility with a current design, better visibility, and improved access is the most appropriate long-term strategy. We believe that the proposed University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center—Aberdeen medical campus will better promote access to convenient and high-quality care.
What will happen to UM Harford Memorial Hospital?
UM UCH is committed to a thorough, transparent process for identifying appropriate new uses for the UM Harford Memorial Hospital (UM HMH) site.
Our process to date:
- Engaged Cushman & Wakefield, a nationally recognized real estate services firm
- Analyzed demographic, employment and transportation trends
- Engaged the community through stakeholder interview sessions
- Reviewed wide range of future development strategies
Goals for the site:
- Provides a transformative opportunity for the property and the City of Aberdeen
- Brings sustainable community benefit
- Responsive to the market demand indicators
- Conforms to the general input gathered from stakeholder interviews
- Synchronizes transition timing from UM HMH to the new UM UCMC - Aberdeen campus in spring of 2023
What is the timing of the future development of the current UCH HMH site?
The findings of the Cushman & Wakefield evaluation will be updated periodically as we move closer to construction of the new UCMC – Aberdeen campus. State regulation approvals have been received, and Cushman and Wakefield is actively representing UM UCH in the "pre-marketing" of the UM HMH site.
Subject: Services at the New Medical Campus
What services will be offered at the new medical campus?
The first phase of the medical portion of the campus will include a full-service, 24/7 Emergency Department, as well as observation beds for medical stays. It will also include comprehensive Behavioral Health services and a modern medical office building for primary and specialty care physician practices and additional outpatient ambulatory services. Individuals requiring surgery or critical care services will be cared for at the UM UCMC Bel Air campus, just 19 miles away, or at another area hospital. Patients needing transfer to a hospital for a higher level of care will be transported via ambulance or helicopter to the appropriate facility.
Additionally, the new facility will have 25 emergency bays (20 of which will serve traditional medical emergency care needs with an additional 5 behavioral health emergency care bays). The Emergency Department alone will more than double from its current size at the UM HMH Emergency Department location. There will also be advanced diagnostic testing, including x-ray, CT and MRI imaging and ultrasound services, to support the needs of our Emergency Department and Observation stay patients.
Approximately 90 percent of our patients' health care needs will be met with the ability to access the services they require locally on the new medical campus. In addition, our Medical Office Building will house a number of primary care and specialty physicians and outpatient services such as a full complement of radiology, lab, physical therapy and more.
Will the services offered at the Aberdeen Medical Campus differ from those currently offered in the UM HMH Emergency Department? Where will patients go for stroke care? How will patients experiencing a cardiac emergency be cared for?
The same level of emergency medical care provided today at UM HMH's Emergency Department will be available in the new, modern, and significantly larger setting at the UM UCMC - Aberdeen campus, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This state-of-the-art Emergency Department will be supplemented by diagnostic services, including x-ray, CT, MRI, and ultrasound services. In addition, the new campus will also include a heliport for air ambulance transfers, a service that is not currently available at the existing UM HMH location.
Nearly all patients currently transported by first responders to UM HMH's Emergency Department will be transported to the new campus. We will continue to stabilize, treat and transfer our patients as we do today, and these services will continue to be provided by emergency medicine trained physicians employed by the Maryland Emergency Medical Network.
Current EMS protocols will be maintained after the facility is opened. For example, our local EMS providers are currently outfitted with EKG transmission devices which allow in the field assessment of potential cardiac events such as a heart attack or lethal arrhythmias. Today, MIEMSS protocols require that individuals experiencing a heart attack be transferred to a MIEMSS designated Cardiac Care Center. UM UCMC in Bel Air is a designated Cardiac Care Center, and patients experiencing heart attacks today are already routed to UM UCMC based on this protocol. These protocols will remain unchanged by our future plans. Similarly, pediatric emergencies are currently routed to UM UCMC in Bel Air due to the presence of an around-the-clock pediatric Emergency Department.
Will patients be financially responsible for any ambulance transportation that may be needed from the Aberdeen medical campus to another hospital?
If a patient is seen at the Aberdeen campus and requires transfer to the UM UCMC Bel Air facility for an inpatient admission, the ambulance transportation from the Aberdeen facility to our Bel Air facility will not be billable to the patient. Any cost related to another facility outside of UM UCH would be the responsibility of the patient and their insurance carrier as dictated by federal CMS regulations.
What impact will the proposed project have on EMS workload and transit times? Will there be Medevac/helipad capability?
For patients who need to be transported to another hospital for a higher level of care, such as UM UCMC in Bel Air or the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, we are developing seamless patient transfer arrangements utilizing a commercial ambulance service that would be stationed at the Aberdeen facility. By doing so, we will do everything possible to not impose an added burden on EMS in terms of an increase in volume of inter-facility transfers or the duration of transit times returning from such transfers.
The new Aberdeen campus will have its own helipad. For non-emergency transfers or admissions, we will utilize University of Maryland Express Care or another ambulance company, depending on the given estimated time of arrival.
If an individual is taken to Bel Air for care, can follow-up care be received in Aberdeen, or does the individual need to go back to Bel Air?
It is our goal that patients will be able to receive their follow-up care on the Aberdeen medical campus. However, the site of follow-up care will be dependent on each individual patients' clinical needs, access to the appropriate physician specialist(s), and the patient's choice.
Subject: Behavioral Health Services
What are the scope of Behavioral Health services on the new campus? Is it secure?
UM UCH's plan includes continuing our commitment to providing behavioral health services to our regional, two county community in a state-of-the-art setting with secure inpatient units. In addition, we have planned a broad scope of outpatient, ambulatory behavioral health services which allow an individual to transition through multiple stages of treatment without moving to multiple locations.
The Behavioral Health Pavilion will serve people from young adults (over age 18) to the senior population in need of mental health stabilization, treatment and ongoing counseling.
Services include hospital inpatient beds for acute needs, including a dedicated geriatric psychiatric unit, a Partial Hospitalization program, and an Intensive Outpatient program for transitional needs from the inpatient setting to the community setting. Our planned outpatient and inpatient behavioral health services allow the individual to transition back home without going far from their support network. UM UCH's plan follows the national trend that integrates behavioral health services within a community setting to allow for accessible treatment, recovery and support.
This location will not serve those individuals currently involved in active criminal or sex offender proceedings. Our plans provide a much needed service for those individuals impacted by behavioral health disorders. In turn, our commitment to maintaining a safe environment for our patients, their families, and our community remain a top priority for UM UCH and this focus will remain unchanged in our new facility.
Why can't Behavioral Health services be centralized in Bel Air?
The staggering need for behavioral, mental and addiction services includes both Bel Air and Aberdeen. UM UCH joined with multiple partners like Healthy Harford/Cecil, Harford County Government, Harford County Health Department and the Office on Mental Health, to open a fully integrated treatment center close to the UM UCMC - Bel Air campus. This modern crisis center, named the Klein Family Harford Crisis Center, (KFHCC) is the first in Maryland to be co-located and a result of the private/public partnerships noted above.
The KFHCC includes:
- A 24/7 Behavioral Health Crisis Hotline (1-800-NEXT-STEP). The intent of 1-800 NEXT STEP is to coordinate services across the region for people in need with a "live" person answering each and every call.
- A 24/7 Mobile Crisis Team for those in our county who need a "house call".
- A small Behavioral Health Outpatient Clinic
- Intensive Outpatient services
- Onsite, the facility also offers:
- A welcoming/family waiting area for people to access services
- An 18-bay/pod walk-in and urgent care center for behavioral health triage and assessment
- An 8-bed residential crisis service for those requiring a longer stabilization period (an average of 3-5 day stay)
- Learn more at harfordcrisiscenter.org
Is UM UCH planning an outpatient substance abuse program? Is UM UCH planning to provide a Methadone Clinic?
Many individuals we currently care for in our behavioral health services (inpatient and outpatient settings) experience both mental health and substance use issues, often called co-occurring diagnoses. We often treat the urgent mental health issues while also stabilizing the substance use issues before referring that individual for more intensive addiction treatment following their discharge. The national standard of care is to treat both mental and physical disorders within the same site, at the same time. For longer-term substance use treatment, similar to long-term mental health treatment, we continue to partner (not just referring) with community providers as we have done with Ashley Addiction Centers. Ashley Addiction leases space adjacent to the KFHCC. This partnering relationship creates improved transitions between services and permits us to better follow the individual's progression in treatment and ongoing care. We are also focused on implementing earlier interventions while decreasing the need for hospital readmissions, which is always better for the individual.
Many residents depend on public transportation that stops in front of UM HMH. What are you doing about public transportation to the new campus?
An important part of our ongoing planning process includes working in conjunction with the Harford County Transit department to include our Aberdeen campus as an official stop on their current established route. We do not anticipate this being an issue since the Aberdeen campus is already on the bus route for Aberdeen/Havre de Grace.
Can UM UCMC – Bel Air handle the increase in volumes projected with the planning of the new Aberdeen medical campus?
Expanded parking has already been completed at the Bel Air campus adding ample parking for patients, visitors, and team members. The construction of a new 3 floor bed tower above the Kaufman Cancer Center at UM UCMC will take place in the spring/summer of 2021 and allow additional medical surgery beds and room for future growth. Additional changes on the Bel Air campus include an expanded waiting area for the Emergency Department and a freestanding outpatient surgery center.
Who will finance the building of the Aberdeen medical campus project?
UM UCH and University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) will finance the new Aberdeen medical campus and the expansion at UM UCMC in Bel Air through the Maryland Health and Higher Education Facilities Authority with tax-exempt bonds.
Does UM UCH expect workforce reductions with the transition from UM HMH to the new facility in Aberdeen?
A large percentage of the current team members at UM HMH will be transitioning to the new campus. It is anticipated that the remaining positions will shift to our medical campus in Bel Air or other affiliate services/locations. Expanded employment opportunities will be available at the new campus in outpatient settings, where increased amounts of health care services will be delivered in the future. Team members will have the opportunity to seek new training, development and leadership opportunities because of this transformational shift in health care delivery.