CAMBRIDGE – For the first time in generations, the lights are out at the former Dorchester General Hospital (DGH). At 3 a.m. Thursday, local medical care moved to the new University of Maryland Shore Regional Health at Cambridge, when the Emergency Center began accepting patients.
Practices and providers on the second floor of the new building also began seeing patients on Thursday.
“Congratulations to all our team members and all our community partners who made this a reality,” a statement from Shore Health said. “Your hard work and dedication is changing the face of health care in Dorchester County.”
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Oct. 26 at the site at 713-715 Cambridge Marketplace on U.S. Route 50. The opening of the $53 million facility, which has been under construction since January 2020, marks the beginning of a new era of expanded access to quality health care services for Dorchester County residents, a statement from Shore Health said.
Memories of care
As the long-awaited day approached, staff and local residents reflected on the coming change, and remembered their careers and the care received there.
“Tonight I cleaned out the locker that I've had for the past 22 1/2 years,” nurse Tara Richardson posted on Oct. 25. “I peeled off decades of jokes, pictures, and memories. I worked my last shift at the building Dorchester General Hospital, as it will always be known to me. I've been thinking for weeks how to say goodbye to the place where I've spent over half my life. Rather than say goodbye, I'm going to concentrate on what I'll remember.”
“Most of all, I'll remember meeting some of the most important people in my life in that building,” she continued. “People that became my best friends and family even as the years have passed. I'll miss the old place and what it used to be. The only constant thing is change and sometimes it hurts, but it's inevitable.”
Memories of DGH and what it meant to the area mingled in recent days with anticipation of what the new building could bring.
“DGH will always hold a special place in my heart – even after leaving many years ago,” Marcia Groton posted. “Some of my most favorite people came out of working there. I wish nothing but good things for the new facility, especially if it can benefit our community. Lots of good wishes for the staff and what their future brings.”
A new beginning
The Oct. 26 ribbon-cutting ceremony was led by UM SRH President and Chief Executive Officer Ken Kozel. The event included remarks by David Milligan, Chairman of the UM SRH Board; Timothy Shanahan, DO, Medical Director, University of Maryland Shore Medical Group; Maryland State Senator Adelaide C. Eckardt representing District 37 and Jay L. Newcomb, President of the Dorchester County Council.
“Our mission at Shore Regional Health is creating healthier communities together,” Mr. Kozel said. “By providing our community with convenient access to expert medical specialists in this advanced centralized facility, we are creating an environment where consultation, care and treatment are more convenient, improving the overall health and wellbeing of our communities.”
The medical facility offers the following health care programs and services:
“In an era when the health care industry is changing almost daily, it is of the utmost importance that our organization continue to change with it in order to sustain our viability as a provider of health care services and most importantly, in order for us to maintain the level of excellence that our patients have come to expect when receiving care at one of our many locations,” said Mohan Suntha, MD, MBA, President and Chief Executive Officer of the University of Maryland Medical System.
Floor by floor
Shore Medical Center at Cambridge is located on the first floor, with an entrance on the right side of the building. SMC at Cambridge includes a 22-bed Emergency Department, including telemedicine capabilities for ED specialist consultations, six private observation beds and a separate, three-bed unit for the assessment and treatment of patients needing behavioral health emergency care.
Intensive outpatient behavioral health services, infusion and cardiopulmonary rehabilitation also are on the first floor, as is the gift shop managed by the Dorchester General Hospital Auxiliary. An adjacent MRI facility offers outpatient and Emergency Department imaging access, and a helipad is available for patients needing transport for acute inpatient care.
Entered from the left side of the building, Shore Medical Pavilion at Cambridge occupies the second floor. The Pavilion includes an outpatient surgery center, diagnostic imaging and laboratory services, rehabilitation services (including the Balance Center), chronic disease management services, and a community education room.
The Cambridge offices of UM Shore Medical Group Pediatric, Cardiology and Surgical Care practices also are located on the second floor, along with the Multispecialty Suite.
Now that the new site is caring for patients, the old hospital is dark, but fond memories of dedicated care will remain.
“Here's to you DGH,” Ms. Richardson wrote. “I’m thankful for what you were.”
For more information and contact details for services offered in the new facility, visit umshoreregional.org/Cambridge.