Talbot Chamber Issues Statement On Hospital Relocation Debate

The Talbot County Chamber of Commerce recognizes that a number of community organizations and local citizens have strong opinions and concerns about the relocation of the Memorial Hospital. The Talbot Chamber is also concerned, because the business of healthcare is vitally important to all residents of our county and region. The Chamber has held several meetings with local government officials, leaders of Shore Health System and community representatives in an effort to understand this extremely complex undertaking of deciding where to build a new hospital, and how it affects all of us. 

The Chamber has a strong history of involvement in healthcare issues that affect the community. Over the past five years, the Chamber hosted the Maryland Insurance Commissioner to address community concerns about the regulation of insurance practices; hosted the Chairman of the largest malpractice insurer in the state, at a time when doctors were leaving the state because of high malpractice insurance premiums; and hosted the Chairman of the Workers Compensation Commission to a widely attended meeting to address serious access-to-care issues created when the Workers Compensation Commission reduced provider reimbursement. (As a result of that effort, the Commission voted to revise the provider fee schedule which eliminated the access problem for injured workers.)

Recently we conducted a survey of our Chamber members to discover their views on the economic impact of the hospital’s relocation. Of the respondents, 63% are more concerned about the quality of health care than the location of the hospital; 19% indicated their business would be negatively affected by the move of the hospital from downtown, and 7% said the relocation would have a positive impact on their business. The majority of respondents anticipate no financial impact on their business. 

This survey, coupled with our past involvement with health care issues, confirms our belief that the people of the Mid Shore want accessible, high quality health care; want to support and maintain our existing medical community; and want to attract new physicians and healthcare professionals to this area. The proposed move of the hospital provides us an opportunity to review not only the location issue, but also the broader concerns of accessible, affordable and excellent health care.

Accordingly, the Chamber will focus on the following initiatives: 

We will continue to maintain frequent and frank communication with hospital leadership during their decision-making process, exchanging facts and information on the economic, as well as the more intangible impact of moving the hospital.

We will work with the medical community to identify their current and future needs. 

We will sponsor a health care forum focused on the healthcare needs of the community.

We will offer support to the Town of Easton and Shore Health System/UMMS to study the adaptive reuse of the existing Memorial Hospital facilities. 

We will work with the Maryland Congressional delegation and the State delegation to seek state funds to study the economic impact of the hospital’s relocation and re-development of the existing site.

We will provide support to businesses that are impacted by the relocation. 

We will meet with the Mayor Willey, the Town Council and the County Council to discuss these initiatives and share resources and information.

The Chamber recognizes that the leadership team of Shore Health System is comprised of dedicated members of this community who understand the magnitude of the decision to relocate. The Chamber applauds the attractive economic development incentive package put forth by the Talbot County Council and Town of Easton for the consideration of Shore Health System/UMMS. The Chamber will continue our ongoing support of the medical and business community during the planning process and after a final decision has been made. If we continue to work together for the best health care possible then we will have it, for our families now and for future generations to come. 

Christopher K. Sadler Chairman TCCC