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AAMC's mental health hospital gains approval; Plan is to open $25 million facility in 2020

Capital - 4/20/2018

A new Annapolis mental health hospital could be opening its doors in 2020 after the Maryland Health Care Commission on Thursday approved the center's certificate of need.

The Anne Arundel Medical Center Mental Health hospital will include 16 beds and provide in- and out-patient services for a number of mental health conditions. It will be the second hospital providing in-patient mental health care in the county.

AAMC will build the project next to the existing Pathways substance abuse treatment center near the intersection of Riva Road and Harry S. Truman Parkway. The project would comprise 56,236 square feet on four levels and cost about $25 million.

"We will be getting underway pretty soon as far as the site development and construction," said AAMC President and CEO Victoria Bayless, "and we hope to be open to the community by summer of 2020."

The MHCC approval was the final hurdle to the project, and there is no opportunity to appeal.

The 16 beds will accommodate the volume of patients needing emergency mental health services at the Anne Arundel Medical Center on Jennifer Road and Medical Parkway. The hospital group will be able to locate mental health and addiction services under one roof.

"Some of our patients often have to go as far away as Towson or Montgomery County," Bayless said. "This is clearly the No. 1 health priority ... We have to be able to accommodate this need."

The Baltimore Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie, the only county hospital that provides in-patient psychiatric treatment, contested the AAMC application. While BWMC is not against another mental health facility, representatives argued the AAMC hospital could add another bed and subsequently become disqualified from Medicaid coverage.

The Social Security Act provides an exception to Medicaid coverage to facilities operating as institutions for mental disease, or an IMD. A facility qualifies as an IMD if it is a "hospital, nursing facility or other institution of more than 16 beds, that is primarily engaged in providing diagnosis, treatment, or care of persons with mental diseases, including medical attention, nursing care and related services."

The approval is conditional - if AAMC would like to expand its beds, officials must seek further permission from the MHCC.

"We applaud Commissioner (Cassandra) Tomarchio and the Maryland Health Care Commission for including a condition that AAMC would need to seek specific approval to expand beyond the 16 beds," BWMC officials said in a statement. "This addresses our concern with this expansion and ensures that these services are appropriately available to all county residents."

Bayless said the hospital will have space for expansion, but there are no set plans for what that expansion might be.

Credit: By Danielle Ohl - -


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