BERLIN – County officials agreed this week to contact Maryland’s State Highway Administration to ask for safety improvements to Route 589 in the area of the Ocean Pines Health Pavilion.
The Worcester County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to send the State Highway Administration (SHA) a letter expressing concern regarding the entrance to Peninsula Regional Medical Center’s Ocean Pines Health Pavilion. The missive comes at the request of Commissioner Chip Bertino, who represents the Ocean Pines area.
“There continue to be problems of people exiting and entering off Route 589,” Bertino said. “I’d ask if we could send a letter reminding State Highway this is an issue of concern to Worcester County but especially to those that use that facility.”
After the meeting, Bertino said he’d brought the issue up after being contacted by Dr. Jerrold Canakis, who’d expressed anxiety regarding patient safety as people entered and exited the facility.
“It is a real problem,” Bertino said, adding that it had been an issue since the complex, which includes various facilities, was built.
Canakis, who’s worked at the Ocean Pines Health Pavilion since last year and is in the process of moving his own office there, said he’d seen many near accidents as people left the facility. Vehicles leaving the complex must turn right onto Route 589. Canakis says many drivers don’t realize that and later panic, making illegal U-turns.
“Do we need a serious accident to occur?” Canakis said. “God forbid someone gets killed. It’s a high-volume area and you have a number of cars. Even to take a right there’s effort there.”
He said patients were coming to the facility to receive care at state-of-the-art medical facilities.
“To put these patients at risk of a getting in a car accident, it’s inexcusable,” he said. “We need to do something.”
Canakis said he’s had patients voice concern over the situation and has seen near-accidents himself. He believes it’s something that needs to be addressed now rather than later. While he acknowledged that improvements would require funding, Canakis said he hoped SHA could find a way to get something done.
“Can you put a price to a life?” he said. “You can’t. To me this is paramount that we get something done. It’s so important. We have folks coming from all over to receive state of the art health care. We have to provide them safe access.”