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January 09, 2023

Trone tours new Frederick Health Hospital wings

Credit: The Frederick News Post

U.S. Rep. David Trone waved to patients and chatted with the hospital staff as he toured the freshly renovated critical care wing at Frederick Health Hospital on Monday after meeting with hospital leadership.

The tour included stops at the hospital’s new pediatric emergency and in-patient units, as well as additions to the adult emergency department and intensive care unit.

Trone paid special attention to renovations in the emergency department’s behavioral health area that are expected to open in March and expand care for both adult and pediatric patients in mental health crisis.

“Getting that focus here with the crisis center and continuing to reinvest with Frederick Health is going to reinvest in the county,” Trone said in an interview with the News-Post after the tour. “And if we continue to do that … we take care of a fast-growing population.”

The behavioral care unit will increase from five to nine beds and add an entire unit for pediatric mental health consultations and treatment, Frederick Health spokesman Josh Faust said.

Expansions that opened in August brought the ICU from 18 to 24 beds and the cardiac catheterization lab from six to 16 bays dedicated to pre- and post-procedural treatment for patients with heart and valve conditions.

Though Trone’s right arm was in a sling from surgery on his rotator cuff on Friday, he remained upbeat in conversations with the hospital staff. Trone returned to the House floor later Friday, in time to vote for speaker.

“Keep remodeling and keep upgrading,” Trone said as he navigated the corridors of the pediatric in-patient unit with a cadre that included Tom Kleinhanzl, Frederick Health’s president and chief executive officer; Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President Cheryl Cioffi; and Chief Financial Officer Hannah Jacobs.

Part of the hospital’s emergency department renovations separated the adult and pediatric units to ensure age-specified care, said Kleinhanzl, but still allow the hospital staff to float between units when necessary.

The two units’ differences are punctuated by a floor-to-ceiling mural in the pediatric unit that depicts two toucans nestled in vibrant jungle foliage.

Kleinhanzl, too, emphasized the importance of expanding the hospital’s capacity for behavioral health care.

“Frederick is not immune from the crises of behavioral health issues in our larger world,” Kleinhanzl said.

He noted that before these renovations, it had been around 20 years since the hospital’s behavior health facilities were expanded.

Now, Kleinhanzl said, the area has tripled in size and added large windows to allow sunlight to stream through the unit’s rooms.

Limitations remain for Frederick Health in providing full care to youths experiencing behavior health problems, however.

Kleinhanzl said that although the hospital is expanding temporary care for youths, the hospital is not licensed to provide inpatient care and has to transfer patients to Maryland facilities that are.

“Hence why the facility itself is so important,” Kleinhanzl said, “because that’s where they’re going to be for a few days before we can get them situated in the right level of care and the right facilities. So, we’re really proud of the construction that’s going on there.”

On his way out of the hospital, Trone commented on the gridlock in the House of Representatives last week after it took 15 votes to elect a House speaker and what it means for his legislative priorities.

“The things I work on are all bipartisan,” Trone said. “My whole focus is addiction, it’s mental health, it’s medical research. So I’ve got a lot of great connections on both sides of the aisle.”

Trone was less confident in the House’s ability to legislate efficiently in the immediate future, however.

He said he is wary of what new Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy traded with conservative lawmakers for his nomination, such as a rule allowing an individual lawmaker to call for a vote to remove him as speaker, down from 100 votes in past sessions.

“That’s just asking for total bedlam,” Trone said.