For the Cumberland Times-News
CUMBERLAND — Just over three years ago, ground was broken at 12500 Willlowbrook Road, marking the inception of the tri-state region’s newest state-of-the-art hospital — Western Maryland Regional Medical Center.
The new hospital is admitting patients, as well as accepting new emergency patients and women in labor, today, beginning at 6 a.m.
In less than a 12-hour time period, more than 2,500 people from throughout the Cumberland community will work together to combine two hospitals into one — an extraordinary feat that only has been done twice in the U.S. in the past three years.
Approximately 200 patients from Braddock Hospital and Memorial Hospital will be transported throughout the day by ambulance to the new hospital. Once all patients from both hospitals have been safely transported to the new centralized hospital, Braddock Hospital and Memorial Hospital will officially close.
For months, the team at Western Maryland Health System has worked closely with local and state law enforcement, movers and ambulance companies to ensure transporting the more than 200 patients and equipment to the new hospital is done in the safest and most secure way possible.
“Nothing is more important than keeping our patients safe,” said Jo Wilson, vice president of ancillary operations at WMHS. “We will be monitoring all transition routes throughout the day very closely.”
Hospital officials have conducted several mock exercises to prepare everyone involved in today’s hospital transition.
“We’ve practiced numerous times how we are going to safely move our patients to make sure everybody is aware of their roles and responsibilities on Saturday,” said Wilson.
The schedule of the transition of the two hospitals into one is as follows:
• 6 to 11:30 a.m.: Patients transported from Braddock Hospital to Western Maryland Regional Medical Center
• 1 to 6 p.m.: Patients transported from Memorial Hospital
• 6 p.m.: Family and friends are invited to visit patients at the new facility
A fleet of 30 ambulances will be transporting patients via predetermined routes, selected based on their safety, that will be heavily monitored by local law enforcement and state troopers. Special neonatal ambulances will transport newborns.
To ensure the safety of all patients during the move, student volunteers from Allegany College of Maryland will serve as sitters. Students majoring in the health care field will stay with patients until they are scheduled to move to the new hospital and will join them at the new facility while they get acclimated.
A transition as unique and complex as this could not be done without the help of Lesley & Associates, a company based out of Houston that specializes in corporate relocation.
The details started two years ago with a review of each of the hospital’s departments to come up with an overall strategy.
Since that time, Lesley & Associates employees have been meeting regularly with hospital personnel to refine that strategy. The company will continue to work closely with WMHS personnel to monitor the day’s activities.
“The cooperation from everyone at (WMHS) has been incredible,” said Patsy Lesley of Lesley & Associates.
Working in the health care business for the past 12 years, Lesley has been involved with a number of hospital relocations.
“The technology at (Western Maryland Regional Medical Center) is by far the best we’ve ever seen,” said Lesley. “And it’s not just the technology, it’s the design, the aesthetics — the hospital has a calming influence and I just think it’s beautiful.”
“The excitement of being able to give comprehensive care to the people that we know and love and consider family throughout this community is hard to put into words,” said Wilson. “There no longer is the question of where you need to go to receive all your health care needs — you don’t have to go anywhere else, it’s here, right here in Cumberland, and this is where you want to come.”
For more information, log on to www.WMHS.com.