September 2020 Cover Story

Written/Edited by Mike Tumbarello

Garrett Regional Medical Center is a True Community Asset!

Every month I try to come-up with a relevant, interesting topic for our monthly cover story.  Some months it is easy to come up with a story line and others are, well, not-so-easy.  In late August I had my gallbladder removed at Garrett Regional Memorial Hospital (GRMC) and I thought I would write about that experience, or more specifically, about GRMC as a community asset here for us all.

I actually had another topic chosen and outlined before I went in for the surgery, but decided to do a short piece on GRMC as I was recovering at home.  Not only did I want to give them some well-deserved kudos, but I also wanted to make sure our readers (both locals and visitors) were aware of this great asset here in the mountains of western Maryland.  I also, frankly, wanted to help dispel the myth that GRMC may not be a cutting-edge facility.  I had heard this a few times when my wife and I relocated to Garrett County in 2012 and since then, though not lately, probably because it is certainly not true and GRMC has been progressing and evolving rapidly based on the needs of our community.

I know that is due to a caring, customer-based mission and a talented community of health practitioners and some really strong leadership and management (and yes, leadership and management are related, but also very different on some levels).

I know choice of a health care professional and facility is a personal choice and is complex based on a number of factors. I won’t pretend that GRMC is a specific or perfect match for all people or procedures or all of the time.  For example, I would perhaps go to a different facility if I need a highly specialized procedure with only a few national experts.  But that aside, I think GRMC and our local health ecosystem is quite impressive and worthy of our support.

Garrett Regional Medical Center (GRMC) celebrated its 70th anniversary earlier this year amidst a national pandemic and the small community hospital originally established in 1950 continues to evolve to meet the needs of the community to which it is dedicated. From its start as a community hospital serving Garrett County, GRMC has grown into a true regional medical center serving a population of 46,000 people living in eight counties across three states. It has also become one of Garrett County’s largest employers with more than 500 team members.

The history of the hospital dates back to 1946, when George W. Loar, a resident of Oakland, left the town $135,000 in his will to be used for the construction of a county hospital. On May 15, 1950, Garrett County Memorial Hospital officially opened its doors. Today, GRMC has grown into an award winning, progressive, Joint Commission accredited acute care facility with 55 inpatient beds and a plethora of outpatient services.

“From our modest beginning as a small county hospital, our commitment to patient care and the community has never changed,” said GRMC President and CEO Mark Boucot in a recent press release celebrating GRMC’s anniversary. “We’ve worked to create a hospital able to provide the services people need, and the services we’ve provided over the years have reflected the changes and growth in the health care industry. That is certainly the case today.  One of the best things that I was able to do when I came to GRMC was to develop the History Hall.  Through creating the memorial to the hospital’s history, I learned about the hospital and the people who formed it.  I’m grateful to be here and to cherish the unique history we have and the hospital it’s become.”

In 2015, the hospital became clinically affiliated with West Virginia University Medicine, and Garrett County Memorial Hospital officially became Garrett Regional Medical Center. The new affiliation allowed GRMC to greatly expand services, which now include cardiopulmonary, heart and vascular, cancer care, infusion therapy, nephrology, orthopedics, wound care, behavioral health, dermatology, and a host of other outpatient services not typically found in a rural hospital setting.

GRMC has received numerous national recognitions for quality of care, patient outcomes, and patient safety. This year the hospital was awarded a coveted 5-star rating by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, named a Top 100 Rural & Community Hospital by the Chartis Group, and received an ‘A’ grade by the Leapfrog Group for their achievements in providing safe, high quality health care.

Recently, GRMC has been named a top hospital for patient experience by Becker’s Hospital Review, a leading publication of the health care industry. This distinction recognizes GRMC as being among the top five hospitals for patient experience in the state of Maryland. In addition to GRMC, other Maryland hospitals to make the list include Johns Hopkins Hospital and Mercy Medical Center, both in Baltimore; Atlantic General Hospital, in Berlin; and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda. GRMC is certainly in good company in the patient care arena.

I hope this short article helped you learn a little more about our local healthcare asset. For further information about GRMC you can go to https://www.grmc-wvumedicine.org/  Stay healthy and happy…

Mike Tumbarello

September, 2020