Martz reflects on UPMC's two-year anniversary

·3 min read

Jan. 23—CUMBERLAND — UPMC Western Maryland President Michele Martz highlighted a specialty care center in Cumberland among services added to the local hospital in the past two years.

In March 2019, Western Maryland Health System and UPMC signed a non-binding letter of intent to negotiate an affiliation agreement.

Following a nine-month regulatory review, WMHS and UPMC entered an agreement to finalize their affiliation and, in February 2020, WMHS officially became UPMC Western Maryland.

Martz on Thursday talked of accomplishments as the partnership approaches its two-year anniversary.

"Our biggest event was the ribbon cutting at UPMC Children's (in Cumberland) that we had done back in November," she said. "(It brought) additional specialty care to our area for our pediatric patients so that they don't have to travel out of town."

Pediatric specialists from UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh travel to the Cumberland center to provide outpatient services, including diagnostic evaluations and follow-up care in areas such as cardiology and endocrinology.

"We can take care of those patients here in our community," Martz said.

UPMC Western Maryland also entered an agreement with the SurgCenter of Western Maryland for outpatient procedures on pediatric patients, she said.

"If they still need in-patient care, they would still travel to UPMC Children's (in Pittsburgh), which is the number nine ranked children's specialty hospital in the country by U.S. News and World Report," Martz said.

UPMC Western Maryland also added a structural cardiologist to its Heart and Vascular Institute, she said of "a physician who performs procedures to fix" heart abnormalities that don't require surgery.

"That's a new service line that we brought here to Cumberland as well," Martz said.

Other recent additions include a neurosurgeon that will join the local hospital system next month.

"The UPMC brand has really enabled us to recruit world-class talent to our area," she said.

Upcoming local hospital events include an emergency department affiliation in the spring with UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh specialists to improve care for pediatric patients.

"When they present at the ED we'll make sure they have the right care by the right provider at the right time," Martz said. "Not that we didn't take care of those patients before, but we may have been quicker to send them out. Now we'll be able to take care of more of them here."

Like the medical industry on a national level, UPMC Western Maryland is experiencing an employee shortage.

"As far as staffing of nurses and general employees, we're feeling that pinch like everyone else is across the country," she said.

To assist hospitals and nursing homes with worker shortages, Gov. Larry Hogan recently empowered the Maryland Department of Health to allow interstate reciprocity for health care licenses.

"Being part of UPMC ... we can share staff across state lines," Martz said. "It's been beneficial."

She also thanked UPMC Western Maryland employees for challenges over the past two years caused by the pandemic.

"Everyone is so committed to caring for our patients," Martz said.

"The best way to thank our health care heroes" is for folks in the community to get vaccinated against COVID-19, she said.

"Vaccination helps reduce hospitalizations and the seriousness of the disease," Martz said.

Teresa McMinn is the Digital Editor for the Cumberland Times-News. She can be reached at 304-639-2371 or tmcminn@times-news.com.