Hopkins plans White Marsh outpatient site 20 to 30 physicians expected to serve 50,000 patients a year

Facility to open in 1999

Location will offer primary, specialty care and an imaging unit

Health care

October 27, 1998|By Kristine Henry | Kristine Henry,SUN STAFF

Johns Hopkins Medicine said yesterday that it will try to replicate the success of its Green Spring Station outpatient facility with a $6 million location in White Marsh.

The planned two-story, 50,000-square-foot building, scheduled to open in September 1999, will offer primary and specialty care with between 20 and 30 Hopkins- affiliated physicians.

Gill Wylie, vice president for ambulatory services development, said the new location will allow many physicians who are spread out in small offices in the area to come together in one prominent site.

"This gives them better visibility and a better location and more knowledge in the community about their whereabouts," he said.

The site, on Honeygo Boulevard across from Ikea, will also house a 10,000-square-foot comprehensive imaging facility developed by American Radiology Services Inc., a joint venture with Johns Hopkins.

Johns Hopkins at White Marsh is expected to serve 50,000 patients annually, although the size of the building and the number of patients served could double after five to 10 years, Wylie said.

Green Spring Station opened in 1994 with 100,000 patients and now serves 200,000 a year, he said.

Close to Helix center

The new facility will be less than a mile from White Marsh Health Center, an outpatient facility run by Helix/Medlantic Health Care Group. Helix's center, which opened in 1995, has one part-time and six full-time physicians. It handles about 30,000 patient visits bTC annually.

"I don't know that this will affect us all that much, except to say that obviously Hopkins has seen the same kind of strategy as being important to them," said Gerry Blair, a Helix spokesman. "Because of the fact that we've been there and have a presence, I don't think it will mean that much to us."

Freestanding facilities such as this are becoming increasingly popular because their prices are not subject to those set by the state Health Services Cost Review Commission, which determines what rates hospitals can charge for outpatient services.

The freestanding centers are often able to offer lower rates and attract more business from insurance companies.

The cost review commission has asked the General Assembly to give it more flexibility in allowing hospitals to lower their outpatient-care rates. The bill did not pass but will be resubmitted.

Robert Murray, executive director of the commission, said the fear is that, because the regulated hospital rates have profit built in, the hospitals will steer publicly insured patients to the hospitals and privately insured patients to the outpatient centers.

"That results in private parties paying a lot less than publicly insured patients on Medicare and Medicaid, and we're fearful of that," Murray said.

Rates will be lower

Wylie said that, while the White Marsh facility will be able to charge lower rates than those charged for services performed at its hospitals, that was not a driving factor because many of the physicians who will practice there were operating outside the regulated-rate system.

"It was small relative to the other factors, such as moving the practices to one location and the development of a comprehensive radiology department," he said. "We do not see this as a shift from the Johns Hopkins Hospital or Bayview [Medical Center]."

Pub Date: 10/27/98

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