Togetherness has been a hallmark of University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) President Jay A. Perman, MD, dating to his 2010 inauguration when he invoked Robert Fulghum’s admonition “it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world it is best to hold hands and stick together.”
So on Jan. 18, Perman was happy for UMB to host a luncheon as part of the University of Maryland Medical System and University of Maryland Medical Center’s Spirit Week festivities. Around 500 employees from all three institutions gathered in Westminster Hall to hear their leaders praise their collective efforts.
“We are a better university because of our relationship with the medical system and the hospital,” Perman said. “We are enriched by all that we share: our people of such enormous talent and dedication; the commitment to our one community; and of course our work to improve human health and well-being — here in Maryland, and around the world.”
He cited examples from UMB’s six professional schools, starting with the School of Medicine. “All of you certainly know how closely our School of Medicine works with the hospital. It’s a critical relationship. A wonderful relationship. But our partnership is broader than that. It extends to our School of Pharmacy, where a joint residency program prepares pharmacy graduates who want to work with patients in a hospital setting.
It extends to the School of Dentistry, where pediatric dental residents are on call 24/7 for children who need emergency care at the medical center. It extends to the School of Nursing, where a nurse-managed urgent care center was recently opened to alleviate long wait times in the hospital’s emergency department. It extends to the School of Social Work, which provides staff to the system’s provider networks, so that patients can access the services they need to get — and stay — well.
“And this partnership also extends, I’m proud to say, to our critical work in the local community. We’ve joined forces with the medical center to improve health, education, and economic development in West Baltimore — knowing that, if we work together, we can be an even stronger ally for the neighbors who need us.”
Robert A. Chrencik, MBA, CPA, chief executive officer of the medical system, also lauded the partnership.
“My close friend and partner Dr. Reece [E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, UMB vice president for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine] and I coined the phrase several years ago ‘the power of partnership’ and nothing demonstrates that more that what we’re seeing here today.”
Chrencik took the opportunity to brag a bit about the medical system, mentioning its 25,000 employees. 150 service locations across the state, its focus on Maryland residents, and, in partnership with UMB, its responsibility to train the next generation of health professionals for the state.
“As you know we have a new UMMS brand message — Be a Part of Something Greater,” Chrencik said. “I think in many ways it showcases what the medical system is all about. When you add the parts together the system is much stronger than its individual parts alone.”
A key part is the School of Medicine (SOM), one of what he called “a fantastic set of professional schools” at UMB.
“When you look at the University of Maryland Medical System, it is our relationship with UMB and the School of Medicine that defines who we are,” Chrencik said. “I think it provides us with a huge competitive advantage in the Maryland health care marketplace. Our medical system is very narrowly focused. I think that differentiates us from Johns Hopkins and MedStar, for example. When the day is done we’re all about the state of Maryland.”
The final speaker at the Spirit Day celebration was Mohan Suntha, MD, MBA, president and CEO of the medical center (UMMC). With 25 years “in the UMB community” starting as a SOM resident, faculty member, and now UMMC administrator, Suntha said he was “blessed” to have a part in the dramatic impact the partners have made in health care.
“Collectively we are a team delivering on a commitment we have to our community, to our state, and to our country,” he said. “I’m looking forward to this partnership for a long time.”
Having completed their boxed lunches and drinks, those in attendance filed out of Westminster Hall with full stomachs and a renewed sense of togetherness.
“I loved it,” said Karyl Fleck, division manager for pediatric surgery and urology at the medical center, who sat with colleagues from UMB and Faculty Physicians, Inc. at the luncheon. “It was great to all have the administrators join together to speak with us and tell us how much they appreciate our efforts.”