By Matt Bush
The battle over who will build a new hospital in upper Montgomery County, Maryland has escalated following the release of Holy Cross Hospital's plan to construct a new facility in Germantown.
Five Canadian geese waddle across a field of yellowing grass along Route 121 in Clarksburg, a stone's throw from the zooming traffic on Interstate 270. It is here that Adventist Health Care wants to build its hospital. CEO Bill Robertson says the company purchased the land eight years ago.
"The Clarksburg area is expected to grow to about 60,000 people over the next decade or so," he says, "and the Urbana area is expected to grow to that or greater."
Adventist and Holy Cross are competing to build a new hospital in the northern regions of Montgomery County. The state health care commission will decide who will win that competition.
Robertson believes Adventist will prevail, first, because it already owns the land it needs.
"We have all the land use approvals," says Robertson. "We plan on starting construction just a few months after we get the certified approval."
And Robertson believes history is on his side. Adventist opened its Shady Grove hospital on the border of Rockville and Gaithersburg in 1979 when only fields surrounded it.
Now, the hospital lies within Montgomery County's Life Sciences Center.
"There were people who thought there was no need for a hospital. But history has shown that the community grew up and needed a hospital."
Holy Cross has partnered with Montgomery College to build a hospital on the school's Germantown campus. The facility would allow the college to double the size of its nursing program.