Community impact: Adventist’s growth is making a difference in Prince George’s Co.

This content is sponsored by Adventist HealthCare Fort Washington Medical Center.

Tracy Matthews-Kelton with Trakina Franklin, ICU Manager.

Mary Cobbs couldn’t breathe when she was admitted to Adventist HealthCare Fort Washington Medical Center in 2017.

She was in distress and experiencing an extremely abnormal heart rhythm, but thanks to the swift movement from the Fort Washington Medical Center Emergency Department, Cobbs was air lifted to George Washington University Hospital for further treatment.

“That quick-thinking saved my life,” Cobbs said. “The nurses and the doctor were right on point.”

Cobbs returned to Fort Washington Medical Center earlier this year to have one of her knees replaced, becoming one of the first patients there to receive orthopaedic surgery with the hospital’s new Mako SmartRobotics system.

“The staff was excellent in preparing me for the surgery and they really helped me with everything,” Cobbs said. “I stayed there two days and both days were great.”

The Mako SmartRobotics system is one of the latest additions that Fort Washington Medical Center has added to enhance and modernize care for patients.

A growing institution

The experiences Cobbs had at Adventist HealthCare Fort Washington Medical Center are indicative of the hospital’s status as a growing institution that is working to reduce local health care disparities in southwestern Prince George’s County.

Hospital leaders have outlined a plan for the future that includes a larger, state-of-the-art hospital with a robust provider network and a long list of specialty services. This garrison of providers will be spread more evenly across a region where residents too often face a lack of options when it comes to their health.

“We are strong advocates for investing resources to achieve health equity in the underserved areas anchored to Fort Washington,” said Eunmee Shim, president of Adventist HealthCare Fort Washington Medical Center. “It is our goal to provide our community with the medical services they require to lead healthy lives and to have physicians that understand their needs and can relate to the patients we serve.”

As part of the hospital’s growth plan, a state-of-the-art 93,000 square foot medical pavilion is near completion in Oxon Hill at National Harbor and is set to receive patients in early 2023. The pavilion will include outpatient surgical services including orthopedic, ophthalmic, cardiovascular, general surgery, and more, in addition to a full range of diagnostic imaging services using state-of-the-art equipment for faster and more detailed testing.

“I think it’s extremely, extremely important that we have a community hospital that’s nearby,” said Tracy Matthews-Kelton, a patient who has lived in the area for about 30 years. “Between me and my family members, we’ve been to the hospital quite a few times.”

Matthews-Kelton said she appreciates how the hospital has committed itself to helping residents find medical care close to home so they don’t need to travel across county or state lines.

“It’s a very important attribute,” she said. “There really isn’t another facility that close that we could go to.”

In January, Matthews-Kelton went to Fort Washington Medical Center for a medical emergency and ended up having to stay in the ICU for 10 days.

It was a difficult time for her, but the hospital staff helped her through it.

“My experience with the ICU nurses was superb,” Matthews-Kelton said. “They were very attentive, personable, very helpful and, during that time, there were no visitors because of COVID, so they became my friends and counselors as well.”

Matthews-Kelton was so pleased that she donated 17 emergency kits to the hospital’s nurses in March.

“I wanted to show them my appreciation,” Matthews-Kelton said. “I was really down and depressed because of what I was going through and they made me feel at home.”

Community outreach

In an effort to create an even greater impact across the community, Adventist HealthCare Fort Washington Medical Center has joined forces with local organizations including a nonprofit that works to attract investments and enhance the region.

“When we hear that Adventist HealthCare is making this commitment, it lets the residents know that this area of Prince George’s County matters,” said David Owens, president of the group.

In partnership with Adventist HealthCare, Fort Washington Forward launched a farmers’ market, bringing locally-grown, farm-fresh produce to the Fort Washington community while providing a casual family-friendly social gathering hub.

“We aim to not only advance the medical care and services that are available in southwestern Prince George’s County but to improve the area’s overall health,” said Shim. “That includes the nutritional health and well-being of our neighbors.”

“I think it adds to the fabric of the community,” Owens said. “We want to enhance the quality of living here by offering healthy, fresh-picked foods, flowers and plants grown by local farmers.”

Owens said it pairs perfectly with the hospital’s goal of reducing health disparities in the area.

“There’s disproportionality in all kinds of things, including health care facilities, and that needs to change,” Owens said. “It takes leadership to do it, so I applaud Adventist HealthCare for making the commitment that will give people a positive posture and a positive mentality about Fort Washington.”

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