As many in the communities that we serve know, University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Chestertown is in the process of dramatic transformation and revitalization for the future of healthcare delivery.

With the support of our parent organization, the University of Maryland Medical System, and UM Shore Regional Health leadership, Chestertown’s Rural Health Care Transformation Team has identified several goals and strategies to deliver this transformation.

Today, I am happy to announce an important milestone: the hospital’s designation as a Level 1 Age Friendly Health System (AFHS).

As an initiative of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), designation as an AFHS is a national movement of hundreds of health care organizations committed to ensuring that older adults receive evidence-based care.

To achieve Level 1 AFHS designation for our Chestertown hospital, we submitted a detailed application that documented how our care protocols adhere to AFHS’ “4 Ms” — What Matters, Medication, Mentation and Mobility.

In the coming months, we will provide further reporting and analysis of patient care data to IHI in support of our application for full AFHS designation.

Achieving AFHS designation will help us implement transformation that will keep high-quality, efficient, appropriate and compassionate care close to home for residents of Kent and northern Queen Anne’s counties.

Effective transformation requires the adoption of strategies that clearly reflect the needs of the community and are driven by what is described as “best practice.”

At UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown, we have taken many of these best practices from what has been learned already within the U.S. healthcare industry and we are aligning these strategies to meet the present and future health care needs of Kent and northern Queen Anne’s counties.

Much of the work in progress focuses on helping families and individuals manage their health conditions outside the walls of the hospital, such as, for example, mobile wellness, health education and transportation projects.

However, a full range of hospital services — including a 24/7 full-service emergency department and acute inpatient beds, outpatient surgery and infusion, as well as therapeutic and diagnostic services — is the nucleus of the transformation effort.

UM Shore Regional Health’s Rural Health Care Transformation team appreciates the sense of investment that our local community members have shown toward the hospital and the many concerns expressed about its future.

We also know that change can bring confusion, with misinformation following close behind. Valid and reasonable questions from community members warrant clear answers and my fellow team members and I are committed to enhancing our communications efforts.

Additionally, we’ll be highlighting more of our hospital-based service lines that are such an important part of the continuum of care and the overall delivery model that will make UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown the healthcare provider of choice in the region.

Dennis Welsh is vice president of Rural Health Care Transformation and executive director of University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Chestertown.

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