Saturday, February 03, 2007

Stop The Band Aids And Sew One Maryland Together

from: Maryland Politics Today

The Burns Media Centre (my home) is in the Prince George's side of Laurel, specifically South Laurel. I am serviced by Laurel Regional Hospital, and basically it scares the hell out of me that the company running the joint might not make it past March, let alone June.

Democrat Del. Victor Ramirez (Dist. 47th) with good motives has the right idea in asking the University of Maryland Medical System to take over the Prince George's hospital system. Although drafting a bill forcing two private entities to talk is questionable, it does solve a couple of problems, one of them is something I happen to notice when it comes to state government for the most part.

The first problem solved would be obvious, giving the county's hospital system to a responsible operator in UMMS. The second problem is something that is rarely talked about, the fact that our government, especially over the past two decades, seem to be Baltimore centric. Nothing against our largest city, but a number of current executive appointments from Gov. Martin O'Malley fall into one of two groups. Either they were from the Gov. Parris Glendening era or they were with O'Malley when he was Mayor of Baltimore, or in one of the neighboring jurisdictions to Charm City. Also, our two U.S. Senators are from Baltimore. And if you think about it, Annapolis is in Anne Arundel County, which counts as apart of the Metro Baltimore market.

UMMS expanding to the Capital Region, via Prince George's County, would be a plus. Outside of the MVA facilities and the State Police Barracks in College Park and Forestville. Let's not forget the University of Maryland. As far as state services and offices, there are not too many in comparison to Central Maryland, where most of the offices are either based in Baltimore or Annapolis.

As far as the hospital goes, Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson has been dragging his feet. It has been almost a year since bids to take over the system were being solicited. I understand that there is a timely process in finding a suitor, but it is ridiculous that the county had to give $5 million to keep it operating for two months and now they are just asking for access to the hospital's financial records (source: The Gazette, Feb. 1, 2007.) Looking at the records should have been done a long time ago. If they did look at them before this time, either they missed something or did not pay attention to the files.

UMMS taking over the Prince George's hospital system would be a win-win situation. A win for Prince George's County and the territory served by Prince George's Hospital Center, knowing that it has a strong, responsible operator. And it will be a win for Governor Martin O'Malley for getting closer to One Maryland, while showing concern for citizens outside of Central Maryland.

P. Kenneth Burns is a journalist and broadcaster based in Laurel. He is the writer/editor of Maryland Politics Today.

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