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September 15, 2022

Rep. Trone visits Garrett County

Credit: Garrett County Republican, Trevor King

U.S. Representative David Trone visited Garrett County last Thursday as part of his multi-day trip throughout Maryland’s Sixth Congressional District.

Highlights within Garrett County include a big check presentation to the Garrett County Government for broadband expansion, a stop at the Garrett Regional Medical Center (GRMC) and a lunch discussion with first responders at the Garrett County Emergency Operations Center in McHenry.

Broadband Check Presentation

Last Thursday morning, local and state delegates met with Trone off Route 135 for an oversized check presentation for $883,574 to the Garrett County Government as part of the Broadband Expansion Project.

These funds were part of nearly $7 million in Community Project Funding secured by Trone for the Sixth Congressional District.

The funding will be used to expand broadband access and services to largely underserved areas. Specifically, the Broadband Expansion Project would allow for the installation of a 96-strand fiber from Route 135 at Mountain Lake Park to Bloomington.

This project will allow for the connection of more than 270 households, 24 farms and 17 businesses to internet services.

“With this funding, we are delivering much-needed relief to hardworking Americans who are struggling to pay for child care, housing, health care and vital broadband access,” Trone said earlier this year regarding the FY22 funding. “These are investments in a brighter future for our country, a more resilient economy and a stronger workforce to compete in the 21st century. We are building a better America.”

Trone visits GRMC

Trone met with officials from GRMC to discuss the approval of a new electronic health record system as part of the Community Project Funding (CPF) for Garrett County.

The $650,000 community project funding for GRMC will be used toward the purchase IT equipment and infrastructure that will support the installation a new electronic health record system — Epic EHR — which will be purchased by West Virginia University Health System and will replace the hospital’s outdated 20-year-old medical records system.

The new system will enable GRMC to connect more easily and seamlessly with West Virginia University Health System, to improve care coordination for the people of its service area. The new EPIC system will allow patient records from GRMC to be shared more quickly with specialists at WVU Medicine and other larger medical facilities.

“Congressman Trone played a crucial role in getting approval for the electronic health record funding we sought,” said Mark Boucot, President & CEO of GRMC. “Health record systems are very costly, and our existing system is becoming obsolete. Converting to EPIC will allow us to continue to grow services and better connect with the specialty providers our patients need.”

The funding was originally announced this past May by Congressman Trone, who helped secure $32.7 million for projects across Maryland’s sixth congressional district. The projects were approved by the House Committee on Appropriations and will be included in the fiscal year 2023 federal funding package.

“Garrett Regional Medical Center is a shining example of what rural health care should look like across the country, and President Mark Boucot has been a tremendous partner in delivering accessible, affordable health care to Western Maryland and West Virginia,” said Congressman Trone. “It was a no-brainer to support their efforts through $650,000 in Community Project Funding to bolster its emergency alert capabilities. With this funding, GRMC can continue serving as a blueprint for health care systems.”

Emergency Operations Center

Trone then made his way over to the Garrett County Emergency Operations Center in McHenry for lunch and to learn more about the FY 2023 CPF request for $698,848 for upgrades that can provide help for first responders throughout Garrett County.

One of the talking points was the concern over a lack of volunteerism creeping in over the years. Currently, Garrett County has 11 volunteer fire departments and three EMS companies with just approximately 390 dedicated volunteers, as well as one career EMS with 42 county staff supporting the volunteer EMS program.

Much of the discussion was also about the backup 9-1-1 center. Garrett County is the only county in Maryland without a fully functional backup center (the primary center is in the Sheriff’s Office at the courthouse).

The CPF request will allow for the purchase of emergency radio equipment to support public information alerts and warnings in coordination with the capabilities from the Emergency Operations Center. This interoperability capabilities are core functions of an Emergency Operations Center and are delineated in the emergency support functions outlined by Garrett’s Emergency Operations Plan.

The backup equipment will allow the Emergency Operations Center to have two-way radio communications and effectively communicate via radio with local, state, and federal agencies. The equipment will allow the Emergency Communications Center to operate as a fully functional backup 9-1-1 Center in the event of a situation or failure at the primary site.

The site in McHenry was approved to be purchased back in 2020, and plans to have a fully functional backup 9-1-1 center have been in the works since 2015.