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February 7, 2010

Closed hospitals mean neighborhood changes

Residents note less traffic since the WMHS Regional Medical Center opened

CUMBERLAND — A two-word sign on the door of the former emergency room at Memorial Hospital says it all.

“Hospital closed.”

A similar situation exists on Cumberland’s West Side where the hospital at the Western Maryland Health System Braddock campus, still called Sacred Heart by many, is shuttered.

The hospitals are dead. Long live the hospitals.

Their demise, of course, resulted in the birth of the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center on Willowbrook Road, shifting the activity associated with such facilities from two neighborhoods to one.

In some ways a lot has changed in the neighborhoods of the old hospitals. In other ways, not much has changed at all.

“I don’t really notice much difference,” said Charles Boone who, with a residence at 606 Ridgewood Ave., was at ground zero for emergency operations at Memorial Hospital.

Directly across from his house was the emergency room entrance. Above him, although not quite directly above him, was the helipad where Maryland State Police Trooper 5 would land with trauma patients.

“I think the ambulances would turn their sirens off before they turned onto Ridgewood,” said Boone, who has been at that location for two years. “And the helicopter, you could hear it, but after a while you didn’t pay much attention to it.”

Boone said the noise from the chopper blades never got to the point where it would interrupt a conversation in his domicile.

Health system officials said there have been five medevac transports to the new hospital since it opened Nov. 21, about average for this time of year.

“This is a great neighborhood,” Boone said of Ridgewood Avenue. “The hospital was a real good neighbor. The place was always kept very clean.”

Boone, who has a driveway, said parking was never a problem for him.

The Memorial campus was more tightly woven into a neighborhood than Braddock, which was built before many of the homes that now exist nearby on thoroughfares such as Bishop Walsh Road.

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