JOHNS HOPKINS may be Baltimore's internationally acclaimed hospital, but its cross-town rival, University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), is becoming the hospital with the best statewide network.
This week's acquisition of North Arundel Hospital continues that trend. The 329-bed North Arundel, in Glen Burnie, is a thriving general hospital that serves a growing middle-income suburb south of the city.
But North Arundel lacks the medical firepower University can deliver as its partner. Now the Glen Burnie hospital will be in a position to offer better women's health programs (including obstetrics in a few years), geriatrics, child-care services, improved emergency medicine and oncology treatment as part of University's Greenebaum Cancer Center.
That's a great leap forward for residents of northern Anne Arundel County. And because University Hospital is only 20 minutes away, north county residents are likely to make that medical teaching center their primary choice for treating complex illnesses.
UMMS has taken advantage of the overdue consolidation of local hospitals recently. University joined with Maryland General in downtown Baltimore last year and helped it add 20 percent to its admissions. The same thing could happen at North Arundel.
As part of the plan for spending the state's tobacco-settlement money, UMMS also is developing a statewide telemedicine network.
This will link cancer researchers and specialists at University Hospital in Baltimore with patients and doctors in Western Maryland, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore.
Patients will be treated near their home but with guidance and advice from some of the best experts in the field.
All these steps help create a vast feeder system for specialists and researchers on UMMS' downtown campus.
That should give more Marylanders far better access to top-caliber health care.