Members and supporters of the grassroots “Save Our Hospital” (SOH) committee gathered on the Chester River Packet boat Wednesday for a sunset cruise to celebrate Chestertown’s Maryland Shore Medical Center designation as Maryland’s first Rural Hospital and to welcome Dennis Welsh, the new Vice President for Rural Health Transformation and Executive Director of Shore Medical Center at Chestertown.
Lara Wilson, the new Director of Rural Health Care Transformation was also introduced.
Spearheaded by local physicians Dr. Gerard O’Connor and Dr. Wayne Benjamin in 2016, the “Save the Hospital” campaign ignited community awareness and formed a coalition of thousands of Kent and Queen Anne’s County residents. Over the years they would petition local and state officials to save the Chestertown Hospital from a reduction in primary services.
It was a hard-fought battle with countless listening meetings, focus groups, mail drives, and legislative proposals as SOH kept the topic trending throughout each year, seeking feedback from county communities about their healthcare needs in a rural environment.
On Wednesday, Dr. Michael Peimer introduced the evening with praise for the years of work done by many community volunteers and healthcare workers, a sentiment echoed by Dr. Gerard O’Connor.
“It took almost six years to do this, but we allowed our community to fight for, preserve, and maintain inpatient beds as well as surgical and other services,” O’Connor said.
Dr. Peimer also announced that the SOH campaign would transition into a “Support Our Hospital” alliance and continue to work with the new administration and promote its efforts to make the newly designated Rural Hospital succeed.
This short video clip shows Dr. Michael Peimer announcing the committee’s name change and introducing Dennis Welsh, Vice President for Rural Health Transformation and Executive Director of Shore Medical Center at Chestertown
Core members of the “Save the Hospital” initiative are: Gerard O’Connor, MD; Wayne Benjamin, MD; Michael Peimer, MD; Susan Ross, MD; Ona Kareiva, MD; Deborah Mizeur, Muriel Cole, Nancy Carter, Garrett Falcone, Zane Carter, Charles Lerner, Kay MacIntosh, and Margie Elsberg who coordinated communications for the group.
In the months to come, The Spy will interview Dr. Welsh and Lara Wilson and find out about the new services long sought by SOH committee
This video is approximately three minutes in length.