Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2007

Washington Adventist Hospital unveils designs for new facility

Plans include two eight-story towers, parking garages, faith center

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Image courtesy of RTKL
The site for a proposed new Washington Adventist Hospital in the Calverton⁄White Oak area of Silver Spring calls for a hospital building, two medical office buildings, two parking garages, an ambulatory care building and a faith center, with room for future buildings.
Washington Adventist Hospital’s new location in the Calverton⁄White Oak area of Silver Spring would mix new patient-care philosophy with modern medical technology, according to the first images and designs for the site released publicly Friday.

The plans call for a main building of two towers, each eight stories tall, outpatient and emergency care centers and a non-denominational faith center and healing garden, among other features detailed in the four-inch thick binder the hospital filed with the Montgomery County Board of Appeals to obtain a special exception.

‘‘We want to create an environment that really and truly is providing 21st-century care,” President Jere Stocks said Tuesday.

Adventist HealthCare, Washington Adventist’s parent company, announced in April that it had purchased nearly 49 acres off Plum Orchard Drive to relocate Washington Adventist from its current site, six miles away in Takoma Park. Hospital officials also are discussing future uses for the Takoma Park campus, including keeping health-care services there.

The special exception, the first step in the relocation process, would allow a hospital to be built on the site. More regulatory approvals from the county and the state are required for the move.

The new hospital would have about 300 beds, the same number as the current hospital, but almost all of the beds would be private, spread out over 600,000 square feet in the towers, Stocks said. By comparison, many rooms feature more than one bed at the current hospital, which has 380,000 square feet, he said.

The main building, with three entry points, also would feature tall windows and a wood-like facade to allow sunshine inside and better blend in with the surrounding woods, said Geoffrey Morgan, vice president for expanded access, who is overseeing the hospital’s move.

The building will also be LEED-certified, he added, meaning it would be considered environmentally friendly.

The main building would be connected to the non-denominational faith center, with the healing garden outside. Behind the main building is a 4-acre lake originally built for stormwater management that would have a perimeter trail for walking and biking, along with a few small pavilions or other public spaces, Stocks said.

The emergency department is projected to see between 50,000 and 60,000 patients per year, Stocks said, with ambulances having their own entrance to the hospital. Washington Adventist is projecting 45,000 emergency department visits in 2008 at its current location, he said.

The 60,000-square-foot ambulatory care building would include an outpatient center and conference rooms that could be used by the community, Stocks said.

A helicopter landing pad also would be located onsite, though it would be used mostly for intra-hospital transfers because the hospital will not be a trauma center, Morgan said.

A 160,000-square-foot medical office building south of the hospital would house a center for cancer patients, Stocks said. Another, slightly smaller office building is planned for north of the hospital, he said.

Plans also call for two six-story parking garages that combined will hold about 2,100 cars, Morgan said. One garage would be accessible only to staff. Washington Adventist is also considering building a wellness, fitness and day care center north of the hospital for workers, Stocks said.

‘‘I think it’s going to be really important to create an environment for the staff where they feel they are being taken care of and ... where they want to come to every day,” he said.

Stocks and Morgan said it was too early to determine how much the new hospital would cost or a timeline for construction, noting both depend on when the hospital meets county zoning and building requirements and is granted authorization from the state to move from its current location.

Washington Adventist is focusing on the county land-use issues first, and Morgan said he expects decisions on zoning from the Board of Appeals and site plans from the Montgomery County Planning Board by the end of next summer.

Assuming the hospital gets clearance from county officials, it would then have to petition the Maryland Health Care Commission to allow the relocation. The commission accepts letters of intent for such moves every six months, by Feb. 1 and by Aug. 1. Stocks said Washington Adventist would not file for the Feb. 1 deadline and would decide later next year about filing for Aug. 1.

Pam Barclay, director of the commission’s Center for Hospital Services, confirmed Washington Adventist had not yet filed a letter of intent. The hospital’s decision to work out county issues first is not unusual, she said. Hospitals also can ask for state authorization first and then handle county issues, or can tackle the two at the same time, she said. But both county and state requirements must be met before the hospital can move, she said.

Patrick Lacefield, a spokesman for County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), said Leggett had no comment on Washington Adventist’s plans. Previously, Leggett has refrained to comment on the move, saying the decision is made at the state level.