JOHNS HOPKINS' pre-eminence in all aspects of medicine -- breakthrough research, academic excellence, delivery of health care -- is buttressed anew by a structural change that puts the dean of the School of Medicine in charge of its world-renowned hospital, thus drawing these two great institutions closer together.
As revolutionary changes sweep through the profession, forcing physicians and hospitals to confront financial hazards, the new organization chart represents an attempt to preserve the Hopkins tradition that has made it great.
The giant medical complex in East Baltimore has gone through two decades of turmoil as the hospital and the medical school (and in some instances the university itself) have been embroiled in personal and turf-war rivalry. Hopkins authorities have long been aware that steps should be taken to put things right.
Much depends on the expertise, cooperation and good sense of this new Hopkins medical triumvirate: Dr. William R. Brody, university president; Ronald R. Peterson, hospital president, and Dr. Edward D. Miller, the newly appointed medical school dean and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Dr. Miller won this coveted job in good measure through his performance as acting dean and chief of a revitalized anesthesiology department.
So far, the signs are encouraging. Though Dr. Brody is a noted medical academic and entrepreneur with previous experience in East Baltimore, his vast responsibility for all institutions bearing the Hopkins name precludes hands-on micromanagement of the medical facilities. While Mr. Peterson, a non-doctor much admired by Hopkins doctors, is the old hand among the three, he is said to accept the idea of reporting to the new medical czar. Dr. Miller had the advantage of being an "inside-outside" candidate in the research for the first medical czar. In less than three years at the medical school, he has established a reputation as an affable colleague and an efficient manager.
Previously, said George L. Bunting Jr., chairman of the hospital board and a university trustee, there were "two separate lines of authority and, really, there was no one place for someone to articulate the vision." Now, he added, "we'll be speaking with one voice."
Both the hospital and the medical school staff face pressures from government and the managed health-care industry that will reduce income, force downsizing and strain the resources of institutions with the twin missions of caring for the indigent and pushing the envelope in medical research.
Nothing, literally nothing, is more important to Baltimore's future than Hopkins Medicine remaining at the very pinnacle of its profession. It is this city's best-known institution, its biggest employer and an irreplaceable force in the intellectual and cultural life of Maryland. The new team of Brody, Miller and Peterson seems well suited to preserve this precious heritage.
Pub Date: 1/19/97