Ocean City Today

AGH seeks financial support from Ocean City

Council agrees to donate $100K for next five years to help aid hospital expansion
By Greg Ellison | Feb 08, 2018

(Feb. 9, 2018) Although final approval is scheduled for Tuesday, the Ocean City Council has agreed in principal to support expansion efforts at Atlantic General Hospital by contributing $100,000 annually for five years.

AGH President and CEO Michael Franklin, who reviewed finances, projects and initiatives during a presentation at the council meeting on Monday, pointed out that the institution is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Franklin said to continue serving the needs of an aging population, as well as addressing behavioral health challenges like opioid use and nutritional deficiencies, the hospital’s Capital Campaign for the Future is seeking to raise a portion of a $35 million total investment for facility upgrades.

“A big part is access to care and quality of care,” he said. “We’re looking to the community for $10 million in donations.”

Last June, Atlantic General broke ground on the John H. “Jack” Burbage, Jr. Regional Cancer Care Center, which is currently under construction.

“People can have access to all the services they need all on one campus,” he said.

Providing health resources for seniors, who currently account for roughly 25 percent of Worcester’s residents and are predicted to grow to one-third by 2030, was another priority, Franklin mentioned.

‘”We need more people to care for them,” he said.

Redesigning and expanding emergency room and outpatient facilities is another goal. Franklin said ER visits climbed to more than 37,000 during 2017, with tourists accounting for approximately 25 percent of that number.

AGH Foundation Board Chairman Todd Ferrante reminded the council that community support was crucial to the hospital’s founding a quarter century ago.

“It’s hard to believe that in 1993, this hospital was started with $15,000 of community investment,” he said.

The project came to life after many Ocean City business leaders made establishing the hospital their mission, Ferrante said.

“They even invested some of their own personal money to get this hospital off the ground,” he said.

Council President Lloyd Martin, supported the request and said the council provided funding for the hospital’s earlier emergency room expansion in 2003.

“I think it was the greatest thing we ever did,” he said.

Mayor Rick Meehan said Atlantic General has lived up to expectations over the last 25 years.

“It’s exactly as it was promised when we originally invested in the hospital,” he said. “I hope in 10 years … you’re back again and … continuing to build the hospital [to] supply the emergency care we need in this community.”

With all members voicing support for the funding request, Council Secretary Mary Knight made a motion to begin the long-term commitment during the current fiscal budget year.

Although supporting the request, Councilman John Gehrig said approving the motion that evening would run counter to a recently established process for unanticipated budget allocations.

“The reason for the procedure was to talk about the funding and where it’s going to come from and how we can allocate it,” he said. “If we’re not going to have procedures, let’s not have procedures.”

Martin agreed the motion should be rescinded.

“I’d like to know where the money is coming from,” he said. “I do support the project ... but it should be a work session item.”

Knight, while agreeing to withdraw the motion, said her enthusiasm for funding the request was based on previous research into the fiscal 2018 budget.

“You’re absolutely correct — we should have a work session to discuss where it’s coming from,” she said. “I’ve been worrying about this for nine months, so I knew where the money was.”

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