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Advocacy Group Rebuts Prince George's on Hospital

A health care advocacy group is criticizing the Prince George's County Council for its recent handling of negotiations with the state over the future of the county's hospital system. Progressive Maryland is also suggesting that the council has been misleading the public about Dimensions Healthcare System, the private company that runs the system, and the impact the state's offer would have on the county.

The advocates say the council "paints incorrect scenarios about the hospital and other county services" in a posting on the county's website designed to answer frequently asked questions about the
hospital system.

On the website, the County Council says it is a "misnomer" to say that Prince George's owns or operates a hospital system. Progressive Maryland issued a point-by-point rebuttal of the council's arguments on its own website this week.

But Sean Dobson, acting director of Progressive Maryland, counters that argument, saying that the county does own the hospitals. "In a legal agreement reached in 1983, the county is clearly the owner of the property
and facilities and Dimensions is merely the leaseholder and operator of these assets," Dobson writes.

He also notes that under the lease agreement the county maintains two seat on the Dimensions Board
of Directors.

The Council said paying $176 over eight years to restructure the hospital system, which is called for under the state's proposal, would negatively affect other county services. Dobson said that "scenario is false, noting that the county had nearly $300 million in its reserve fund, according to the fiscal year 2006 consolidated annual financial
audit. "There are plenty of funds available for the county to meet its commitment under the state's proposal without cuttng essential services," he said.

"The Prince George's County government needs to face up to its responsibility to its residents," Dobson said. "Band-aids and playing loose with the facts are not what the county needs."

The council rejected an eight-year, $329 million deal offered by the state on the final day of the legislative session last month. County Executive Jack B. Johnson announced last week that the county would pay "tens of millions" to keep the hospital open for the next 15 months -- a stop gap measure to give the county time to reach a long-term deal with the state over the county's future.

Dobson called the failure to reach an agreement during this year's 90-day legislative session a "gross dereliction of duty" and said that the council is not reaching out to the O'Malley administration to try to come to some type of an agreement. "It's crazy."

The council did not respond to requests for comment.

By  |  May 4, 2007; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  Prince George's Hospital  
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Seems to me this group is a little slow coming out with something about this issue.

This information might have been more useful to the public BEFORE the Council rejected a better deal and got stuck with everything.

Where was the advocacy group when something could have been accomplished with this information.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2007 10:30 PM | Report abuse

it still can be saved don't be such a defeatist jack johnson and o'malley are doing God's work

Posted by: Anonymous | May 5, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Progressive Maryland never says on its website why the P.G. Hospital system doesn't do a better job of collecting payments from people who use its services.

Posted by: Robin Ficker | May 7, 2007 5:53 PM | Report abuse

The only way Jack Johnson is doing God's work is if God is greasing his palm.

Posted by: Not buying it, Jack | May 8, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

What is the Prince George's County Council thinking in rejecting O'Malley's offer of state help for the hospital? I can tell you who they are not thinking of---the residents of PG. This is despicable. The Council needs to realize that if PG hospital closes, both the County and the state will have a disaster to deal with.

Posted by: K in SS | May 10, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Duh!? What was PG Council thinking to reject the state's offer of help and a permanent solution? The documentation is clear: the county owns all the system's facilities, so there's nothing at risk to the county except whether PG Hospital and other centers will be kept open and continue providing vitally needed services to the Councilmembers' own constituents. Look-- take the money offered, share the burden (it's only fair and necessary), and implement a long-term solution. No more half-witted band-aids.

Posted by: Bernadette Odyniec | May 10, 2007 12:57 PM | Report abuse

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