BERLIN – An official groundbreaking ceremony was held on the campus of Atlantic General Hospital this week, kicking off construction of the new $1.4 million Atlantic Health Center, the latest expansion of the ever-evolving facility.
Several state, county and municipal elected officials joined hospital brass and other dignitaries on Wednesday to officially break ground on the new 9,700 square-foot Atlantic Health Center, the latest addition to the hospital’s growing campus slated for site along Healthway Drive adjacent to the James G. Barrett Center. The new facility will house several new and expanded services provided by AGH including a primary care clinic, a child advocacy center, a comprehensive diabetes patient education and car center as well as outpatient mental health services.
The $1.4 million project is being funded in large part by the Maryland Hospital Association Bond Review Program and the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission, but the project would not be possible without matching contributions from local governments.
Worcester County and Ocean City are each providing $250,000 in matching funds for the project while the town of Berlin has contributed $50,000.
Atlantic General Hospital president and CEO Michael Franklin praised the local contributions to the growing hospital community and stressed the importance of continued collaboration among the government entities and agencies that support it and benefit from it.
“What you’re seeing happen is the evolution into what needs to happen for comprehensive health care reform,” he said. “And it is through the collaboration of the government entities and agencies represented here that it is happening. Because of that collaboration, we’re evolving much more quickly than most community hospitals in the country in terms of health care reform.”
Atlantic General has grown by leads and bounds since it opened in 1993, keeping pace with similar growth in the population of the area. The original building that opened in 1993 was 75,000 square feet, but was increased to 108,000 square feet with a major expansion in 2004.
Over the last few years, the hospital system has grown again adding new facilities along the way including the 42,000 square-foot James G. Barrett dedicated last fall. At 9,700 square-feet, the Atlantic Health Center, which broke ground on Wednesday, is dwarfed by comparison, but the new facility will pack a lot punch for the space.
“There will be a tremendous amount of stuff happening here in what appears to be a small area of our campus,” said Franklin.
There are four major components planned for the Atlantic Health Center, one of which is a new primary care clinic. It will deliver primary care to a wide range of county residents and is especially equipped to handle the problems of low income and under-insured individuals.
The new facility will also include a Child Advocacy Center, or Cricket Center, which will provide treatment and forensic examinations for child abuse, sexual abuse and sexual assault victims in the area. It will be the first of its kind in the three counties of the lower Eastern Shore. The Atlantic Health Center will also host an expanded diabetes patient education and care center and an outpatient mental health services program.