Only weeks after he was named last winter to succeed Dr. Robert M. Heyssel as president of Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System, Dr. James A. Block survived a brush with death when he escaped the crash of USAir Flight 405 at New York's LaGuardia Airport. It was the kind of close call that alters one's perspective on life. Musing the other day about the experience, Dr. Block said, "The small things don't bother you nearly as much, and the big things look smaller. But perspective is what life is all about."
As Dr. Block takes over at Hopkins this month, the ability to pu things in perspective may be one of his strongest assets. He now presides over a hospital that for the second year in a row has been rated as "Best of the Best" by U.S. News & World Report. In a survey of 1,000 leading physicians, Hopkins ranked as superb in more specialties than any other hospital.
As chief executive of one of the city's largest employers, Dr. Block will also be an important figure to the East Baltimore neighborhoods surrounding the hospital. It is encouraging news that he leaves Cleveland's University Hospitals Health System Inc. on a much friendlier, more productive relationship with the surrounding community than he found on his arrival there seven years ago.