State, county and University of Maryland hospital officials announced a partnership Wednesday which may yield a $600 million investment in new hospital in Prince George's County.
The partnership is now looking at the scale, cost and feasibility of building the medical center. Currently, Prince George's Hospital Center in Cheverly is the only trauma center for Southern Maryland. The new hospital would be build in a central location.
"We still have things like the financing to work out but this is a game changing day," said Governor Martin O'Malley.
Candra Foster spent the day in the waiting room of Prince George's only hospital Thursday while a loved one received medical care. She said the hospital is a must.
"It means a lot to the community. Basically in this area its all we have. Hopefully it doesn't close," she said.
A 2009 Rand report on health care in Prince George's County found that county residents are more likely to be uninsured and have higher mortality rates than neighboring Maryland jurisdictions.
The study also concluded that Prince George's County lacks sufficient numbers of primary care physicians and safety net providers.
For years, the Prince George's hospital center has been teetering on the edge of going out of business. With too many patients unable to pay their bills, it has stayed open only with state subsidies. The hope is that resources and ability to draw paying patients from the Maryland system will make the new hospital sustainable.
Parties agreed to an 18-month planning period but believe that construction could begin in about three years.
"This says standing up here today that this is a long term solution for Prince George's County and the region," county executive Rushern Baker said.
How much it will really cost, where it'll go and what will become of the current hospital location after its closed are all questions which remain to be answered.