Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett touted the importance of Washington Adventist Hospital’s move from Takoma Park to White Oak Monday at a press conference in the East County Community Center.
Leggett, along with State Sen. Karen Montgomery (D-Dist 14), former State Sen. Ida Ruben (formerly of Dist 20) and Burtonsville resident Kim Bobola, tied the hospital’s move to economic growth for East Montgomery County.
“The hospital would also serve as a catalyst for the overall economic development of Route 29,” Leggett said, citing a recent economic study by Dr. Stephen Fuller on the impact of the move. “The new White Oak hospital campus would immediately create more than 275 new construction jobs and ultimately create more than 1,000 new, permanent jobs in Montgomery and Prince George’s County.”
The county executive also shared his personal experience receiving care from the hospital.
“Just over 20 years ago I had quadruple bypass surgery and it was performed at Washington Adventist Hospital,” he said. “When I say caring, compassionate and professional service, it is of the upmost.”
Montgomery also touted the hospital’s willingness to accept patients who may have difficulty paying for service. Her adult son is autistic and was treated by Washington Adventist recently.
“He just came in their emergency room, they just took care of him, they didn’t ask for anything until he had been there for two days,” she said. “I admire the ethics of this hospital and I admire the universal healthcare they provide.”
The state senator’s district includes Olney, home of Montgomery General Hospital, which opposes the move because of the close proximity to its facility. Montgomery dismissed claims that the two hospitals would compete for customers.
“They shouldn’t be [competing with each other],” she said. “There are a lot of sick people. No matter which hospital you go to, there are lines in the waiting room.”
Hospital president Joyce Portela said the location isn’t intended to move into another hospital’s market.
“I’m not focused on their opposition. I’m focused on the fact that Washington Adventist Hospital intends to move, not into their market area, our objective is to move into the center of our market area,” said Portela. “Right now we’re on the edge of our market service area.
“We’re in communication with those hospitals on various projects all the time, but I understand that they oppose our move because it will place us in a stronger position,” she said.
Bobola, former president of the East County Citizens Advisory Board and supporter of the hospital’s move, said the hospital has communicated with several civic groups and neighborhood associations in preparation for the move.
“No one had any reason they didn’t want the hospital to be there,” she said. “We, the community, are very excited.
“This could be as big as the rebirth of downtown Silver Spring and as exciting as when Discovery Communications became an anchor downtown,” Bobola said. “Similarly, Washington Adventist Hospital will anchor the revitalization of East County and can spur business and neighborhood service improvements.”
Portela echoed the sentiments, calling the community response to the move “exciting.”
“We are appreciative of the County Council, the county executive, elected officials at both the state and federal levels, the FDA,” she said. “We are so appreciative of all of this level of support.
“It’s exciting to see how many folks are behind us, the organizations and the people. It’s a very exciting time to be at Washington Adventist Hospital; we are very grateful,” Portela added.