Ice cream, handshakes: Hopkins receives leader

July 02, 1992|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,Staff Writer

They threw a party yesterday on East Monument Street to welcome Dr. James A. Block as the ninth president of the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System.

Several hundred employees turned out in sweltering heat on the hospital's Turner Plaza for ragtime music, cookies, lemonade, ice cream and to get a look at their new boss.

Dr. Block, tanned, white-haired and somehow cool and dry in his dark blue suit, took over yesterday from Dr. Robert M. Heyssel, who retired after 20 years at the helm of one of Baltimore's largest employers.

"I'm delighted to be part of the Johns Hopkins family. It's a great honor," Dr. Block told the crowd.

Noting that Hopkins was recently named the nation's best hospital in a U.S. News and World Report survey of 1,000 physicians, Dr. Block said that achievement "could only have been done because of the kind of work all of you do."

He then walked into the crowd and began shaking hands and chatting with employees.

Dr. Block, 51, comes to Baltimore from Cleveland, where he served seven years as president and chief executive officer of the University Hospitals Health System Inc., which includes a 771-bed teaching hospital of the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.

The Dayton, Ohio, native led University Hospitals through a $130 million building program, and a three-year price freeze that cut operating costs $50 million.

During his tenure, University Hospitals came to dominate its market. It created a network of hospitals and physician organizations called University Hospitals Network, and acquired a multispecialty group practice of 120 physicians and dentists.

It is a record of acquisitions, mergers, construction and innovation similar to the one Dr. Heyssel leaves at Hopkins.

As Hopkins' chief executive, Dr. Block will head the 1,036-bed Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health Center, the Francis Scott Key Medical Center, the Johns Hopkins Geriatric Center and the Johns Hopkins Medical Services Corp., a group practice serving 18 outpatient centers.

Dr. Block and his wife, Mollye, have four children.

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