Town Council Responds to Immigration Forum

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A two-hour town council meeting on Tuesday addressed the rumor that Chestertown was considering sanctuary status as a response to the high-profile undocumented immigration deportations continuing to sweep the nation.

The rumor was dismissed noting that sanctuary cities functioned as a protest by local law enforcement by refusing to act as an extension of federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Since the Town of Chestertown does not have its own jail, any consideration of sanctuary status would have to be taken up at the county level.

Instead, the council allowed a forum for speakers to talk about the overarching undocumented immigrant deportations and what it means personally to them and to the community they represent. Kent and Queen Anne’s counties are home to over 2,000 undocumented immigrants.

As mentioned by Mayor Cerino, over three million undocumented immigrants, the majority with criminal convictions, were deported during Obama’s twp-term presidency.

This week Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly removed many of the restrictions for targeting the 11 million undocumented immigrants now living in the US, the kind of messaging that inspired many to attend the packed meeting at City Hall.

The Spy notes yesterday’s LA Times report that new enforcement targets will now include:

  • people in the country illegally who have been charged with crimes not yet adjudicated.
  • those who have not been charged but are believed to have committed “acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense.” That would include the 6 million people believed to have entered without passing through an official border crossing.
  • those who receive an improper welfare benefit.
  • those who committed minor infractions such as driving without a license.

Due to the length of the meeting, the Spy’s Wednesday’s video of the council meeting did not include the council’s response to the issue.

Here are the highlights of responses by Councilwomen Liz Gross and Linda Kuiper, and Councilmen Sam Shoge and Marty Stetson.

The video is approximately eight minutes in length.

 

No Sanctuary City Vote: Chestertown Council Holds Immigration Dialogue

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Chestertown did not awaken today as a sanctuary city despite rumors that the town council would be voting on the emotionally charged immigration status issue.

Mayor Chris Cerino prefaced Tuesday’s Town Council meeting to a packed room by saying, “I want to make it very clear tonight that we are not here as the town council to vote on becoming a sanctuary city. This is basically an information gathering session. It’s what I’ve always intended it to be.”

The issue of sanctuary city status, pitting cities, towns and states against President Trump’s executive order has been a hot button issue from Miami to Los Angeles.

A sanctuary city, or state, is defined by its refusal by local law enforcement to assist in federal policies to deport undocumented immigrants. Although the local law enforcement participation is voluntary, the Trump administration has threatened to penalize non-participating cities and states with federal funding cuts, although the Supreme Court has previously ruled against funding cuts unless directly related to national interests in the issue. A state-level proposal for sanctuary status, “The Maryland Trust Act”, is currently under consideration in Annapolis.

Cerino said that his office had been flooded with emails both supporting and denouncing sanctuary city status and although two weeks ago an agenda item to present a request for sanctuary city status had been added to the council’s list, the request was tabled because of Maryland’s consideration of sanctuary status.

Because no vote was to be taken by the council, speakers from the Kent-Queen Anne’s Indivisibles, one of 6,000 national grassroots with a “focus on local, defensive congressional advocacy and to embrace progressive values”, along with others, spoke more generally about immigrant status in the US and sought to demythologize attitudes about legal and undocumented immigrants’ roles in our society.

Rose Granillo, a member of Indivisibles said, “We’re not here to ask Chestertown to be a sanctuary city, yet we are seeking clarity on what lies ahead for families who feel terrified or uncertain about their place in our society. Kent County is home to 850 immigrant families, 1700 in Queen Anne’s, and we don’t know and don’t feel we need to know their status. They are our neighbors, friends and family member and most of them have been here for many years,” she said.

Marcia Brown told a personal story about a neighbor who 19 years ago crossed the border with his stepfather and sister, went to school, learned English and translated for the neighborhood, worked on a dairy farm to help the family, passed his GED, started a landscaping business, married and had two children only to be threatened by ICE that he and his wife would be deported but “not to worry, because his two children would be well taken care of in foster care.

Town Councilwoman Liz Gross described her path to citizenship from Canada when she came to the US in 1992. “One might think that 10 years before 9/11 the immigration process would have been simple for a Canadian speaking English and who was about to marry an American who served in the senior executive service of the US government. It was far from easy. The process took over a year even back then. I was subjected to personal indignities that are hard to describe,” she said. She continued to explain disrespect verging on abuse to non-white immigrants requesting temporary visas to visit families for Christmas when making their presentation to the US consulate in Montreal.

Lynda Kuiper addressed the fiduciary responsibility of government to its taxpayers citing Chestertown’s application for a USDA grant for work to continue on the marina and questioned if property taxes would be affected by sanctuary city status, or if the ongoing financial stress on the county’s educational system would be impacted even more. “I haven’t heard anyone ask what it would cost if the town became a sanctuary city,” she said. When asking “how many here would take in immigrant into their homes?” Many attending the meeting yelled, “we would.”

Chairman of Queen Anne’s County Republican Central Committee Tim Kingston also attended the meeting. He said that as a member of State Legislative District 36 which includes Chestertown he was concerned with the rumors of a possible Chestertown sanctuary city status. Although not listed on the on the agenda’s speaking list, Mayor Cerino welcomed his participation in the dialogue. Kingston, underscoring Councilman Marty Stetson’s remark “that we are a nation of laws,” said that “the only concern I have at this point is illegal immigration. He cited the 1996 US Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act. “Simply put, that act, from Congress to state and local governments said that you should not hinder local personnel from relaying information about someone’s immigration status to Customs.” He added that he did not see that as being an issue locally.

Cerino’s summation included a key issue that makes Chestertown a nonsensical choice for sanctuary status: Chestertown has no town jail. It is through local municipal jails that Immigration and Customs Enforcement request assistance either by requesting additional hold-over time for suspected undocumented immigrants, or for police to act in their stead by enforcing federal immigration policies, requests usually made by cities with large immigration populations.

The Mayor said that since any arrests are taken to the county jail, the consideration of any kind of sanctuary status could be taken up at the county level.

More coverage of the council’s response to the fact-finding meeting will be available Thursday.

This video is approximately ten minutes in length

Chestertown Environmental Committee Polishes Up Web Site

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A project update by the Chestertown Environmental Committee was presented to the town council during their meeting on Monday.

Master gardener and committee member Shane Brill displayed the newly designed Committee’s web page now appearing on the town’s website and pointed out that the new format is easily searchable.  The page is replete with helpful videos from dealing with high energy bills to growing niche crops and learning how to compost along with precise instructions on how to participate in Chestertown’s environmental health.

Helpful “Resouce” and “Take Action” sections fulfill the Committee’s mission to “promote careful stewardship, research, and wise use of natural and economic resources with the goal of achieving an improved quality of life for the community and future generations through sustainable initiatives”.

The site also highlights upcoming events like the March 2 “Garbage Warrior” documentary to be shown at 7:00 pm at Sumner Hall.

Goals for the group include:

  • Improve Chestertown’s natural environment through the incorporation of sustainable best practices for the Town’s land use and management, stormwater infrastructure, watershed stewardship, and tree canopy.
  • Strengthen the Town’s economy through initiatives that foster sustainable business practices, reinvestment in vacant storefronts, and green purchasing policies.
  • Encourage healthy living for the Town’s populace through the expansion of parks, walking trails, bicycle lanes, and wellness programs.
  • Reduce the Town’s carbon footprint through the expanded use of alternative energy systems, energy-saving practices, and recycling programs.

See their new site page here. The can also be found on Facebook.

This video is approximately three minutes in length.

Dreaming a Business: J.R. Alfree has Plans to Renovate High Street Building

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Local restaurateur and entrepreneur J. R. Alfree has a dream, and he’s serious about making it happen.

Faced with sky-high costs for maintenance, patchwork repairs, and upgrades, Alfree wants to completely renovate his 27,000 sg ft building on High St. and turn it into a multi-use venue for wedding receptions, six B and B type apartments, and a cake, candy and ice cream shop.

Alfree bought the building, home to the popular Lemon Leaf Café and JR’s Past-Time Pub, two years ago, after moving from his start-up restaurant on Cross Street.

“All that space is empty, so what do I do? Instead of saying the building is falling apart, I say the building has so much potential.”

While considering his options, he was introduced to architect Peter Allen, Peter Allen Construction Management, who knows the High Street building and has been involved with other Chestertown renovation work including Widehall on Water Street. A third, commercial architect Joseph Skinner, Skinner Associates, joined in the conversation and who also recognized the potential in overhauling the structure to take advantage of the rest of the building.

“Within a few minutes, we formed a team that wants to take this building to the next level. I think it’s something that Chestertown needs. I think there’s a need for places for people to stay, and a venue space for wedding receptions, banquets, and live music.”

The three worked together to design a basic structural plan to accommodate the overhaul and expansion.

“We’d try to finish the work in phases to try not to disrupt the current businesses,” Allen says. “It’s a big commercial project. The roof, for example, would have to be completely replaced along with the structural rebuilding. Even then, the group foresees only a day or two of closures during the construction.

Alfree understands a community’s sensitivity to change. For decades, like Andy’s, the back room was Chestertown’s iconic hotspot and venue for professional musicians.

“Some might look at this change as the wrong thing to do with this room—it has a lot of history—but it’s the only right thing to do to save the entire building. You have to understand we’re trying to protect the emotional connection, but it does have to be altered in the long run.”

Despite projected costs of up to a million dollars for the project, Alfree has researched and connected with a list of available loans.

“The thing that I want to say about Kent County is the six years I’ve been here is that there are more resources to help you grow your business than ever before. When I first moved here from Cross Street, I received funding from the Greater Chestertown Initiative, an amazing program,” he says.

Afree points out that various loan opportunities also exist from programs like PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing available for energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy installations, along with casino money used to reinvest in local communities.

“The investment group visited Chestertown, fell in love with it, and read our business plan and we’ve developed a great dialogue with them,” Alfree said.

Some might call it risk taking,  but Alfree is quick to recite the history of Dixon Valve’s founder, HW Goodall who at 15 in 1887 quit school to become an errand boy for a company in Philadelphia. Goodall began to design hose couplings but was fired for being too ambitious. Rather than seeing the job loss as a setback, the young man started his own company.

“He saw an opportunity after weighing the needs in his industry. Am I taking a risk? I don’t think so, but every achievement holds a risk,” Alfree says.

The Spy talked with J.R. last Friday.

This video is approximately 6 minutes long.

A New Era at WCTR: Rock and Roll Phoenix Rises

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A community’s health is as good at its ability to communicate and engage with each other. Media focused on hyperlocal news, offering an open forum for interviews and engaging with fresh, novel entertainment is a perfect way to do it.

WCTR AM 1530/FM 102.3 is on track to be a leading forum for news and entertainment for Kent and Queen Anne’s counties.

Recognizing a kindred spirit, the Spy interviewed Leslie Sea and Brian Moore, partners at the reinvigorated WCTR, and talked about how their newly restructured radio station engages the region in the ongoing story of ourselves: our government, schools, sports and the arts, all the while entertaining us with more than the usual stock of music.

Sea and Moore discovered Chestertown last January after working with a media broker who suggested that WCTR might be a good fit for them.

“I was the first own to arrive,” Sea says, “and I had one of those OMG moments when I came over the bridge.” They knew intuitively that they were in right place.

“WCTR in Chestertown reminded me of my early days in radio when I worked in a small station on Ohio. I wanted to get back to that,” Moore says.

Moore was impressed by the interface between WCTR and the community. “I’ve worked in many market sizes in my 37 years, from this size up to Tampa and I like the fact that you can have a station made by the people for the people in the community.”

While there might be some nostalgia in making their choice, Moore and Sea are savvy when it comes to using the internet and social platforms to make WCTR only an app away no water where you are. You can be sunning in San Diego while listening to a live stream of Washington College basketball or keep track with the home-town news. Unlike satellite radio, local broadcasting offers a direct portal to local news.

A new morning show hosted by Moore and Sea expands the “live” format to mornings and afternoons with veteran WCTR talent Keith Thompson at the helm during afternoons.

Obviously, music is of paramount importance to the business partners. While many mainstream AM/FM stations resort to what seems like an eternal loop of stock music, WCTR looks for the 60s, 70s and 80s music that continues to ‘wow’ but has often been neglected. Much of the music is introduced by local personalities

And they do their homework, even transcribing vinyl to digital and offering a historical note on the evolution of an individual song, noting that programmers seem to have forgotten huge back catalogs of music.

“One of the things we’re proud of is a 50s show we run on Saturday mornings from nine to noon hosted by Bill Blake and Tim Sullivan who used to do “Juke Box Saturday Morning.” It’s now called “The Rock and Roll Review, ” and they give you the background on music, Moore says. Sea adds that Blake and Sullivan convert original 45s to digital to use for each history of a songs’ remakes.

“It’s surprising, “Sea says. “I keep discovering who first sang or wrote the music that has become classics.

Sea also notes that WCTR has upgraded their “live-on-site” equipment to be able to attend more community events. Sea says that live remotes from community events are one of her favorite ways to engage the community and for the station to gain more listeners.

“Our doors are always open,” Sea says. “That’s a what a community radio is all about. You can come here, talk to us, give us your ideas and make requests. We extend an open invitation and hope that you will give the new WCTR a listen.”

“We want to try serve everyone because I think we offer something for everyone. We offer something for the Millennials because they love retro music and we offer something to the community because we are so up to date on things going on right here, right now,” Sea adds.

This video is approximately 7 minutes in length. For more about WCTR go here 

A.F. Whitsitt Center Adjusts to Funding Changes; No Fear Health Center Will Close

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Since 1982 A.F. Whitsitt Center has survived many national administration changes, the ebb and flow of funding and major restructuring including the 2009 closure of Upper Shore Community Health Center and subsequent addition of treatment wing.

Throughout these changes, the Center has continued to deliver life-saving residential treatment to people suffering from chemical dependency and co-occurring disorders and now they face a new challenge—adjusting to the end of their primary grant funding resource.

Andrew Pons, Clinical Director of A.F. Whitsitt Center met with the Spy on Monday to allay any fears that there is an impending closure due to the end of the Behavioral Health Administration’s grant. The Center will continue with its services.

“At the end of this fiscal year, the Behavioral Health administration said that all grant funding for residential treatment will end. What we are doing right now is exploring alternatives so that we can continue to deliver high-quality care that the Center is known for, in a different configuration that will include fee for service,” Pons said.

He added that there were many options to consider and that their in-house strategic planning group is reviewing their budget and training for the change from state grant funding to a fee for service model that would depend primarily on Medicaid reimbursement.

“Dr. Spencer (the attending physician at Whitsitt Center) spoke with Dr. Basron, head of the BHA, and she has assured us that Whitsitt is a viable alternative to private sector options that are open.”

With many variables to consider, including treatment quality codes, Pons said that the Center doesn’t want to compromise on any aspect of their treatment but particularly with detox.

“The majority of people we get in treatment these days are in need of detox from opiates: pain medication and heroin. 70% of our admissions are opiate-based, Medicaid won’t pay for detox from opiates because it’s not a life-threatening situation. We’re in the middle of a heroin epidemic and they won’t pay for it.”

That has not deterred Whitsitt from detox treatment. Pons says that they will continue to ease people through the five day withdrawal period.

One consideration for changing the reimbursement structure is to install a separate track for mental health because 60% of the people who come in for substance abuse have a co-occurring disorder like depression, anxiety, bipolar, PTSD.

Citing Warwick Manor as an example of the private sector’s separation of mental health and substance abuse for strategic billing purposes, Pons sees that separation as an avenue to keep the level of care at Whitsitt Center up to their standards.

Of course, with a promised replacement of the Affordable Care Act by the Trump Administration, national and local health programs across the board face uncertainty.

A.F. Whitsitt Center treated over 600 people in 2016. Currently, 37 people are in residential treatment. Even with an extensive waiting list, wait times average about seven days.

For more about all of A.F. Whitsitt’s inpatient and outpatient services, go here.

This video is approximately 5 minute in length.

New Blood Reinvigorates Main Street Program

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Kay MacIntosh, Economic Development and Marketing Coordinator for Chestertown, introduced plans for a reinvigorated Main Street program to the town council during Tuesday’s meeting.

The program was designed as a model and tested nationally in the 1970s to counter the erosion of small town identities and economies due to the national shift in economic centers from towns to malls.

Seeing success in its original model, individual states developed their own Main Street programs.

“Main Street-style transformation is a combination of art and science: communities first need to learn about the local economy, its primary drivers, and its regional context (the science), but they also need to convey that special sense of place through storytelling, preserving the older and historic structures that set it apart, broad and inclusive civic engagement, and marketing (the art),” state mainstreet.org.

Chestertown launched its own Main Street program in 2008. Meeting some initial success, it fell dormant because of a lack of volunteers.

Macintosh has been attending the quarterly meetings of the state Main Street group and, with Kristen Owen, President of the Downtown Business Association, last summer’s national conference.

“I was more convinced than ever the Mains Street Program would be a great thing for Chestertown especially because of the deep wells of civic engagement we have,” Macintosh said.

Macintosh said that she talked with various groups within the community to make sure that there were no overlapping missions and received positive feedback from people wanting to see the program succeed. Many responded by volunteering for Main Street committees.

“I hit gold when local businessman Paul Heckles stepped up to become the new president,” she said. Heckles and his family are owners of Twigs and Teacups, and he has just finished two years as Chestertown Rotary President.

“We looked at the past documents and endeavors of the program, and we’re not starting from zero, ” Heckles said. “We are studying how to synergize with other groups like the DCA and A and E District and make sure we’re not duplicating any efforts.”

For more about the Mains Street Approach go here.

A complete list of volunteers follows:

Paul Heckles, President

Bryan Matthews, Vice President

Renee Bench, Secretary

Jeff Weber, Treasurer

ORGANIZATION COMMITTEE

Lani Seikaly, chair

Paul Heckles

Barbara Jorgenson

Megan Bramble Owings

Toby Tobriner

Jeff Weber

ECONOMIC VITALITY COMMITTEE

Richard Keaveney, chair

David Bowman

Mark Kamon

Terwana Brown

Jeff Grotsky

Kristen Owen

Marjorie Adams

Bryan Matthews

Nina Johnson

DESIGN COMMITTEE

Ellen Hurst, chair

Carolyne Grotsky

Barton Ross

Joe Karlik

Barbara Slocum

Jodi Bortz

Michael Bourne

Kate Markoski

PROMOTION  COMMITTEE

Liddy Campbell, chair

Andy Goddard

Jenn Baker

Ben Ford

Mike O’Connor

Renee Bench

Bernadette Bowman

Greg Waddell

Francoise Sullivan

Neyah White

Carolyn Brown

 

The following video is of Kay Macintosh and Paul Heckles. It is about 5 minutes in length.

Deja Venue: Solar Company Seeks to Override Local Zoning

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Chestertown faces another showdown with Maryland’s Public Service Commission with a recent filing by Morgnec Road Solar LLC to place a solar field on Morgnec Road.

According to a December 16, 2016, Maryland Public Service Commission filing for a certificate of public convenience and necessity, Morgnec Road Solar LLC lists Simon Peter James as Manager of Sole Member.

The target site plan for 343 acres across from Delmarva Power and Light’s Chestertown Substation is inconsistent with current zoning designations.

Amy Moredock, Director Kent County Planning, Housing & Zoning, presented the case to the Chestertown town council during Tuesday’s session, recommending that the town’s interests in the matter should be represented by a legal intervention mechanism and work in tandem with any county effort to uphold county and town zoning laws.

Coming within a week of the Mills Branch application denial by a Public Utilities judge, the Morgnec solar case is another test of local zoning being challenged by energy companies who appeal to the Public Services Commission to override local zoning when a project is deemed as meeting the needs of public necessity.

Both the town and the county encourage renewable energy resources but want to see them meet local zoning requirements. Thousands of acres allowed by current zoning laws are available for energy projects throughout Maryland and on the Eastern Shore.

Local resident and business owner Frank Rhodes called attention to the fact that Rt 213, north and south, and Morgnec Rd Rt 291 are main corridors to and from Chestertown and vast tracts of industrial solar fields would diminish the rural landscape.

“This is a gateway to Chestertown, a main route to one of the most historic towns in this country and to come into Chestertown from Millington or Kennedyville and to see these panels would be a horrible situation.” Rhodes is fully supportive of solar energy in appropriate areas.

The Kent Conservation and Preservation Alliance has also been the forefront of challenging the Public Services Commission’s claim of preemption of local zoning laws. Addressing some of the reasons behind energy company choices, they write on their website “Developers seek farmland in Kent County and on the Eastern Shore because there are relatively large tracts of level, cleared land at prices far below that found in more populated areas. Our farmland is seen as undeveloped and waiting to be converted into a project.”

Planning Commission attorney Mitch Mowell said, “These companies are making money and disappearing. What they’re doing is buying tax benefits and taking advantage of the 1990s law that lets the PSC preempt if you want to place electric transmission wires and that local zoning can’t prevent that. That’s a big difference from a private company coming in and building where they choose. We need to get the legislature to understand that.”

The town council voted unanimously to officially file documentation to intervene before the Public Service Commission for further action to be delayed until after the appeals process for the Mills Branch project has concluded.

Mid-Shore News: Rural Health WorkGroup Focuses on Health Delivery Transformation

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Tasked with studying the healthcare needs for the five counties of the Mid-Shore and offering policy templates to the State, Rural Health Care Delivery Group held their third of seven workshops at Washington College on Monday.

The 32-member committee co-chaired by Deborah Mizeur and Dr. Joseph Ciotola, and attended by health care officials, county and state elected officials and business owners, the workshop sought to clarify the goals and possible implementation of an across-the-board transformation of health care delivery of the mid-Eastern Shore as national health care trends change from total dependence on hospitals a sole provider for health needs.

The work group’s focus is “to examine challenges to health care delivery, including limited availability of health care providers and services; special needs of vulnerable populations; transportation barriers, and the economic impact of closing, partly closing or converting health care facilities and also to identify how the benefits of telehealth and the Maryland all-payer model contract might help in restructuring the delivery of rural health care services. Finally, the study is to develop policy options that address the health care needs of residents and improve the health care delivery system in the five counties.”

Rural Health Care Delivery Workgroup. Co-chairs Joseph Ciotola and Deborah Mizeur at center.

Rural Health Care Delivery Workgroup. Co-chairs Joseph Ciotola and Deborah Mizeur at center.

Addressing the complexity of designing a transformative rural healthcare model for the mid-shore, Deborah Mizeur said that much of the first two meetings were used to orient all committee members to the healthcare landscape. “We have a wide spectrum of membership, from physicians to businessmen and we all need to be on the same page to move forward. I’m energized and encouraged by the progress we’ve made.”

The session began with an overview of Maryland’s progression plan for an All-Payer Model given by Katie Wunderlich, Gov. Hogan’s deputy legislative officer for health care issues. Using slides, Wunderlich walked the group through key strategies, components, and a timeline to frame further work group discussions on how best to create policy platforms to be submitted to the State next October.

One slide, “Rural Health Nationally” stood out as a profound indicator of the need for a systemic change in rural health care delivery. It showed that in urban settings:

  • morbidity rates in females decreased by 10% and in rural areas morbidity rates increased by 40% along with a fivefold increase in opioid and heroin overdoses, doubling of suicides and tripling of deaths due to cirrhosis of the liver, linked to alcohol abuse.
  • At the same time, nationally, “rural hospitals have faced declining margins of 5% annually since 2011, due to shrinking inpatient demand.
  • Nationally, 68 rural hospitals have closed over the last 5 years, and an additional 670 are vulnerable to closure in 2016, up from 280 in 2015.
  • Many Americans living in rural communities rely on their hospital as one of their few sources of health care.

With a declining use of hospitals nationwide due to migration from inpatient care to outpatient care—from hospital-centric to population-centric— the focus is on a continuum of care keeping patients healthy through preventive and primary care services, and out of acute care facilities whenever possible. Refined medical procedures have shortened inpatient stays while outpatient procedure have kept patients out of the hospital altogether.

Wunderlich offered key points to sustaining rural health care with an emphasis on building on the success of the current rate-setting Total Patient Revenue (TPR)—the mechanism replacing Fee-For-Service incentives—and creating a geographic value-based model incentive “to address local accountability for population health and Medicare total cost of care.”

“This is basically putting in rewards for providers, for hospitals, for when they are able to improve their methods,” Wunderlich said.

Wunderlich added that a critical component to addressing rural health care is the transformation of primary care to support care management, care coordination, connections to behavioral health, social services and other resources.

In its fourth year of a five-year plan transforming the state’s health care system, 2017 will include continuing infrastructure development and increased support of high need patients with a 2018 focus on primary care home models, incentive harmonization and developing and organizing geographic and regional efforts.

Deputy secretary for public health at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Howard Haft discussed community-based “patient centers” working in tandem with the primary care model as part of the overall transformation needed to meet the needs of the rural population.

“We’re really going to have to transform what we do in primary care, Haft said. “There are insufficient numbers of doctors in the state and certainly a disproportionate number of doctors in rural communities who have to provide more and more care in small intervals. So we must shift from how many people we can see to delivering the best care for every person you can see.”

Patient Centers offer interdisciplinary teams of doctors and specialists who coordinate diagnostics and treatment while taking the stress off overloaded primary physicians. Patient centers would alleviate some of the problems in recruiting new physicians, according to Haft. Many primary physicians are seeing between 35 and 40 patients day. Along with the fact that attracting a physician to a rural area and a lower income model is difficult, Haft sees patient centers as the strengthening of relationships between patient and physician by using coordinated care efforts rather than episodic care visits. This model encourages teamwork between a patient —and his or her willingness to work toward person health goals—physician and other support staff.

The video starts with some of Health Services Cost Review Principal Deputy Director Katie Wunderlich’s overview of the progression plan and is followed by. Dr. Howard Haft, Deputy Secretary for Public Health, DHMH.

The next meeting will be held in March in Annapolis.The Rural Health Care Delivery Plane will be submitted to the State General Assembly in October.

This video is approximately 13 minutes in length  To see slides of each of the presentations, go here. Scroll to the January 9 meeting section.