Laurel Regional Hospital (LRH) caregivers joined Prince Georges County elected officials and the Laurel community at a press conference in mid-July, for an announcement that the hospital, slated to close, will now delay further service cuts.

Last July, Dimensions Health System announced plans to shutter their full-service Laurel facility to the surprise and dismay of Union members, the community, and local legislators—none of whom were consulted in the decision to close the hospital. During the summer and fall of 2015, the hospital shuttered its Maternal and Child Health unit and downsized in-patient beds.

Following the announcement, 1199 members engaged in months of advocacy, a series of town hall meetings and the passage of an emergency bill in the Maryland General Assembly requiring greater transparency by a hospital prior to announcing a closure. This hard work has paid off and a newly assembled work group will help amplify worker and patient voices in decision-making around the future of LRH, workforce development, and the direction of healthcare in the Laurel community. 1199SEIU will be represented in the work group committee, ensuring concerns of Union members are addressed.

After decades of financial problems, Dimensions will be taken over by the University of Maryland Medical System when the Certificate of Need is approved for a new regional hospital in Largo, MD. In the meantime, no further departmental cuts or major layoffs will be made at LRH until 2018 at the earliest.

1199 member Cynthia Medavarapu, a registered nurse at LRH, expressed satisfaction with the development of the working group and the postponement of service cuts.

“As caregivers, my colleagues and I are pleased that we can continue providing quality care to our patients and community,” said Medavarapu. “This working group will ensure that patients and employees are considered and heard as we design how healthcare is provided in Maryland.”

1199’s critical role in keeping the hospital open was acknowledged by several elected officials during their remarks.