AFSCME Members Plan to Fight Back Against Proposed MDH Facility Closures

On Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, MDH Secretary Dennis Schrader and the Hogan Administration released a Master Facility Plan detailing recommendations for the 11 facilities MDH currently operates statewide including transitioning services and closing the Deer's Head Hospital Center and the Western Maryland Hospital Center. As a union, we’ve been here before. In 2016, when the Governor announced privatization plans at WMHC, Springfield, and the RICAs we came together and pushed back to defeat those plans. WE can do it again.

Yesterday, over 60 union members from both facilities came together to plan the next step in our fight to stop these proposed closures! Join the Save Western Maryland Hospital Center/Deers Head Hospital Center by emailing your name and facility to [email protected]. We will be scheduling the first meeting within the next week so we plan how to fight back!

Under the proposed plan, MDH privatizes services at 5 state facilities over the next 20 years and establishes four “regional service” centers. This plan reduces the overall bed capacity and staff to even lower levels than the MDH currently has. In total, the plan is estimated to save the state $321 Million over 20 years, or the equivalent of roughly .007% of the total operating budget for Maryland each year. 

It is unclear what path this plan will take.  MDH has said that “legislators will have a say” but it is not clear what “having a say” means.  It is our job to engage with stakeholders and convince them that they need to speak up because MDH’s plan is a bad one.

We need to create a crisis for the people who want to see this hospital closed. We cause this crisis by making sure that people understand the truth about the importance of the work that goes on here and why it’s important that this hospital remains open in its present form. We provide excellent care, as has been demonstrated throughout this pandemic and the relatively few outbreaks we had compared to private facilities in our area. 

Our patients depend on us to give them long-term care for their chronic conditions. Their care will still be needed after they close our hospital, the state just wants to drive down the wages and benefits for workers who do this by moving the work over to the private sector. That’s not right. Our patients deserve better, and those of us who do this tough work deserve better.