By Melanie Dzwonchyk

In 2019, University of Maryland Capital Region Health started a process to reimagine and then redevelop the Laurel Regional Hospital campus as UM Laurel Medical Center, shifting the medical facility’s focus from inpatient to outpatient care and services. 

The new campus is now set to open in late spring or early summer, according to UM Capital Region Health President and CEO Nathaniel Richardson Jr., who spoke at a Feb. 1 virtual meeting hosted by Prince George’s County Council Chairman Tom Dernoga (District 1), whose district includes Laurel.

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Rendering of UM Laurel Medical Center and the connecting medical office building with a conceptual view of the surrounding campus.
Courtesy of University of Maryland Medical System

The new campus, which will include facilities for primary and specialty medical care, behavioral health, outpatient surgery and emergency care, is under construction on 44 acres on the corner of Van Dusen and Contee roads in Laurel, where Laurel Regional Hospital has stood since 1978. The hospital is slated for demolition after the new campus is operational, potentially by the end of this calendar year.

UM Capital Region Health’s goal was to build a “one-stop destination for health and wellness in Laurel to replace Laurel Regional Hospital,” said Anthony Lampasona, who spoke at the presentation. Lampasona is president of off-campus development for Catalyst Healthcare Real Estate, the firm that is developing the medical office building.

The new campus will eventually include an 83,000-square-foot, two-story medical center and an adjacent 60,000-square-foot medical office building. The medical center will offer a first-floor entrance into a surgery center and offices of physicians and specialists with the UM Capital Region Health Medical Group, which provides internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, maternal fetal medicine, pulmonary medicine and pain management services. 

An entrance for emergency patients will be on the second floor, on the other side of the building. The ER’s private patient rooms were touted as “spacious” by Gloria Oniha, UM Capital Region Health’s director of nursing and operations, during the update. A 10-bed observation unit will be located adjacent to the ER; patients can be transferred to this unit from the emergency room if they need more care or recovery time from surgeries.

The medical center also includes a radiology department, a pharmacy, procedure rooms and two operating suites.

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Rendering of UM Laurel Medical Center’s first floor entrance to the surgery center and UM Capital Region Health Medical Group
Courtesy of University of Maryland Medical System

Behavioral health services at the new medical center will include a dedicated emergency department and space for patients being treated in a day program.

UM Capital Region Health Project Manager Lisa Hardesty said that the facility will have a café kiosk for staff and visitors and kitchen services providing meals for patients. The center will not have a full cafeteria for staff or visitors.

The buildings will be set in a park-like campus, Hardesty said, and parking will be free and ample, and will include bike racks and charging stations for electric vehicles.

The new medical center is also expected to bring jobs to Laurel. 

“We have a lot of job openings,” for ER nurses, administrative staff and more, said Oniha. Applicants should apply at the University of Maryland Medical System website, she said, and a job fair will be held at an open house at the medical center.

Current staff with the former Laurel Regional Hospital will transition to the new facility. “We will keep everyone that wants to stay with us,” Oniha said.

The second building under construction on the campus, the medical office building, has leased space to a variety of healthcare specialists offering services such as dialysis, imaging, oncology, primary care and pain management. The facility also offers a retail pharmacy and a coffee shop. 

Tenants in the original medical office building, which sits across from Laurel Regional Hospital’s ER entrance, will remain, Lampasona said. The UM Laurel Wound Care Center, which has a hyperbaric chamber, will also remain in its current location.

UM Capital Region Health Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tom-Meka Archinard also participated in the Feb 1 meeting. She noted that the new medical center will help “move our culture and quality of care in a positive direction.”

A board-certified emergency room physician, Archinard said she plans to work in the medical center’s emergency department, not because of a shortage of physicians but because “it not only keeps me focused on the large picture of the program, but keeps me grounded and able to connect on a one-on-one basis with our patients.”

Overall, the UM Capital Region Health officials participating in the Feb. 1 meeting painted a rosy picture for the soon-to-open medical center, which they said would bring state-of-the-art preventive and urgent medical care to Laurel.

“We are very excited,” Richardson said. “The project we are delivering here in Laurel is something the community can be proud of.”