Opinion: What Sets Maryland Hospitals Apart

Sometimes you need to leave home in order to appreciate it. While I’ve lived in Maryland for 36 years, my work in health care has been largely on matters in other states or national issues.

In 2018, I was finally given the opportunity to work for and in my home state, leading Maryland’s association of 60 not-for-profit hospitals and health systems.

What I learned through seeing firsthand how health care functions in more than 40 states and federally, is that Maryland’s hospitals are doing it right. They are providing health, hope and healing to our more than 6 million residents.

Maryland hospitals are guided by progressive principles that promote better quality of care at lower cost. Our hospitals work hand in hand with state government on continuous improvement. It’s a far cry from the Washington, D.C., politics that paralyze health care policies elsewhere in the country.

So, what sets us apart from everybody else?

Maryland has a special contract with the federal government that lets us operate a one-of-a-kind system in which all insurers pay equitably for hospital care. Everyone has access to first-class hospital care, including people who are uninsured or underinsured.

Hospitals in Maryland have no incentive to deliver care people don’t need; they do have the incentive to improve both the quality of care for their patients and the health of the people in their communities. Every one of our hospitals has a story to tell and serves as the hub of their communities.

As the economic engines in many cities and towns, they directly employ 107,000 people and support another 113,000 related jobs. This adds up to $32 billion of yearly economic impact.

Our hospitals know that care is much more than the two million emergency room patients seen, or the 70,000 babies delivered each year. It’s also helping to make sure that every patient and family has a community of care through things such as proper nutrition, necessary transportation and safe housing.

We are friends helping friends, neighbors helping neighbors. Our hospitals are helping where you wouldn’t always expect or imagine.

Frederick Health partners with 16 area organizations on LiveWell to promote healthy lifestyles. MedStar Harbor Hospital’s “prescription for food” program delivers fresh produce for eight weeks after a hospitalization to help patients in need eat right. And LifeBridge Health’s Clean & Green Team beautifies neighborhoods around their facilities to help improve the communities where patients and employees live. The list goes on and on.

You’ll find our hospitals convening community members, groups and businesses to understand their communities’ needs. How best to house the low-income and homeless population? What’s a good way to get food to those who may be malnourished? These are a few of the challenges our hospitals are working to help solve.

Thanks to the future-minded policies put in place several years ago, Maryland’s is a model of a health care system that aims to control costs and improve quality on a large scale. Washington won’t get it done, but Maryland’s hospitals already are well along the way.

Join us as we deliver health, hope and healing to all Marylanders. Maryland hospitals are #Caring4Md.

— BOB ATLAS

The writer is president and CEO of the Maryland Hospital Association.

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