|Headline from my March 9, 2010 article|
calling for 2 new hospitals to be built in
According to the Maryland Department of Health, Montgomery County is 500 beds short of the number it will need to serve coronavirus patients at the peak of the outbreak. Imagine if we had started on the long process of adding our hundreds of missing hospital beds ten years ago.
In 2010, there were proposals on the table from Adventist Healthcare and Holy Cross to build a new upcounty hospital. This followed Montgomery County's failure to require more beds in approving Suburban Hospital's expansion plan a few years earlier, something I also criticized County officials for at the time.
State and County officials were determined to build only one new hospital upcounty. Looking at the 2002 SARS and 2009 H1NI pandemics, and the fact that the D.C. region is a major terror target, I correctly saw our needs differently.
"I believe that our county and state must commit the resources necessary to build both projects, and make further investments over time to expand those facilities, if we are to face the health and public safety challenges the near future poses," I wrote. "The need for more hospital beds could not be more clear."
I noted an incident one day in January 2007, when a norovirus outbreak and a large number of flu victims overwhelmed the emergency departments at Suburban, Sibley and Shady Grove hospitals with sick patients. Ambulances bringing patients with other injuries or illnesses were being diverted to other hospitals, according to a first responder familiar with events that day.
"Imagine what the situation will be if a terror attack, disease outbreak, or natural disaster does occur," I warned. "It's time to wake up. And time to build two hospitals."
Remember when I was right about the underground fuel spill in Bethesda, the need to find the "missing" African-American cemetery before starting the Westbard sector plan process, the BETCO property land swap money not going to the Little Falls watershed as promised by the Council, the plan to bulldoze existing single-family home neighborhoods the Council finally admitted in 2019, and what a fiscal disaster the County's finances would be in if we hit an economic downturn (like is happening just now?). "We can't go on like this," I told several County Council debate audiences in 2010 about our structural budget deficit, out-of-control spending, declining revenue and skyrocketing debt.
Just to name a few. Too bad you wound up with the council members who brought you more important government actions, like banning trans fats, circus animals and tanning beds for teenagers.
When coronavirus hits Montgomery County full strength in the weeks ahead, and we don't have enough hospital beds, many residents may find themselves once again having voter's remorse.