Hospital awaits health commission ok to start building new White Oak campus

A hospital wants to build a new location in Montgomery County that it claims will bring jobs and investment to the area, but construction is on hold as the state's health care commission ponders the move.

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Washington Adventist Hospital officials want to build a new White Oak campus just six miles from the hospital’s Takoma Park location, but there's one thing stopping them from moving forward.

“It's a beautiful location where healthcare is needed and where there's a setting where natural healing and the environment is conducive to healing,” said hospital president Joyce Portela.

The hospital announced its plans six years ago. The Maryland health care commission has ok the move, but there is no deadline by which it has to make a decision.

“We have submitted our certificate of need application, and the hearings are complete, so at this point we're waiting for commissioner Worthington to make his recommendation to the full commission, and the full commission will vote,” Portela said.

On Monday, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett threw his support behind the project. Leggett hopes the 249-bed hospital will generate more business and interest to the eastern portion of the county.

“The new white oak hospital campus will immediately create 275 new construction jobs, and ultimately create 1,000 new permanent jobs in Montgomery and Prince George's county,” Leggett said.

According to the gazette, other hospitals say the move would hurt their growth, and suggested renovations at Takoma.

“We're just looking to move to the center of our market area,” Portela defended the hospital’s plans. The Takoma Park hospital will stay open even when the other campus is build behind the orchard center on Plum Orchard Drive, she said.

Burtonsville resident and community advocate Kim Bobola, favors the close proximity to her neighborhood.

“Its central location would make it more convenient for folks who are clustered in affordable housing near the new site, and convenient for the elderly who live at Riderwood,” Bobola said.

If the health board vote comes through soon, the new White-Oak site could open by 2015.

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