Ocean City Today

AGH: full speed ahead at 25 years

May 03, 2018



printed 05/04/2018


The effort to establish a hospital in Worcester County in the late 1980s was what might be called a jaw-clenching, teeth-grinding business. And that’s putting it mildly.

Despite an abundance of enthusiasm by a relatively small group of people,  gaining approval for and then constructing a hospital from scratch turned out to be far more difficult than anyone had imagined.

The 25 years that have passed since the opening of Atlantic General Hospital might have softened the hard edges of that campaign, but it remains that its initial stages were a roller coaster of high hopes and deep despair.

The drive had all the elements of a political thriller — big disagreements, subterfuge, arm twisting and a labyrinthine regulatory process that seemed stacked against a core of volunteers who, really, didn’t know the first thing about creating a health care facility.

Another obstacle was that many residents along the coast needed convincing that a hospital would work and some objected to Ocean City government’s $2.5 million contribution to the effort, even though the resort’s huge visitor population was the primary justification for a quickly accessible primary care hospital.

In addition, the hospital committee’s attempts to obtain the official approval of state health regulators involved enough red tape to strangle a herd of Assateague horses.

Two things happened, however, that helped early hospital supporters break through to success: one was the arrival of a young expert advisor, Sam Moskowitz, a medical administrative professional, who today is senior vice-president of MedStar Health System in Baltimore. He helped  guide the committee through everything from the nuts and bolts matters to negotiations of some delicacy.

The other thing that occurred was then Gov. William Donald Schaefer came up big by declaring Atlantic General Hospital would get its certificate of need no matter what.

Much of that battle has been forgotten. But with the hospital marking its 25th year, veterans of that effort probably remain amazed that what they began has since developed into something far beyond what they hoped to achieve.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.