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Gregory Francis Schaffer

Born: Feb. 12, 1946, Connecticut.

Education: B.S., Central Connecticut State University; M.S., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Current position: President, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Career Highlights: VP, Saint Vincent’s Medical Center, Staten Island; VP, Support Services, JHBMC; Senior VP of Operations, JHBMC.

Family: Wife, Peggy; two children: Gregory and Daniel; one grandchild: Ava.

Hobbies: Spending time with Ava.

 

Greg Shaffer on Bayview's Bright Future

Greg Shaffer, photographed in the Rose Garden at the old City Hospitals entrance.

Leading campus tours when VIPs pay a call is all part of the job description for Gregory Schaffer, president of Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. After a while, they all sort of blur together. One tour, however, stands out. That’s because the visiting “VIP” was none other than Schaffer’s own father.

Fred Schaffer wasn't a stranger to campus. Part of his training as a seminary student in Baltimore between 1928 and 1936 involved ministering to patients at the former City Hospitals. (The elder Schaffer eventually left the ministry in favor of raising a family and running a farm in his native Connecticut.) By the time he returned several years ago to tour the campus with his son, the president, he was well into his 80s. “As we went around, he didn't recognize much of anything,” Schaffer recalls. “Then I took him out to the area we call the Rose Garden, right at the entrance to City's old A Building. He looked up and said, 'That's it! That's where we used to come in!’”

Family connections give Schaffer a unique appreciation for Bayview's 230 years of history, with 138 of them spent on its current site off of Eastern Avenue. But visible signs of that history can be hard to come by. The campus has undergone an astounding transformation in the 20 years since it was acquired by Hopkins. Old buildings were torn down; new ones, erected in their place. Others were gutted, then reinvented as thoroughly modern facilities.

Schaffer arrived in 1995, at about the midpoint of this transformation. Today, he says, the bold vision that Hopkins brought to Bayview back in 1984 has been largely realized. The question now is, what will Bayview do for an encore? How will its campus look when it comes time to celebrate a 30th or 40th anniversary? In a recent interview in his office on the ground floor of the five-year-old Bayview Medical Offices outpatient building, Schaffer laid out his vision for Bayview's future.

Bayview has enjoyed remarkable success in attracting patients over the last 20 years, but right along with that have come new challenges. Patient admissions are over 20,000 a year, nearly double what they were in 1985. Outpatient visits have doubled as well, to 150,000. “The acute hospital [Francis Scott Key Pavilion] is just bursting at the seams on some days,” Schaffer says. The first order of business has been to look at ways to provide services to more patients within the space Bayview currently has. That has been achieved in part by tremendous strides made in reducing length of stay.

But in the long term, Schaffer says, “we’re definitely going to need to expand the number of beds.” One solution would be to transform a floor of the old City Hospitals A Building into a new patient wing. “We're looking at gutting it and turning it into a 17- or 18-bed unit, with all private rooms—an upscale space. We definitely need private rooms,” Schaffer says. Another, longterm solution would be to expand the Francis Scott Key Pavilion westward into the mid-campus parking lot. That would alleviate the space crunch caused by a booming surgery business.

There is also a pent-up demand for research space. The National Institutes of Health currently operates two of its centers on the Bayview campus: the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Future plans call for a new building on campus to support the NIH activities, and that in turn could potentially free up space for research.

In its early years as a Hopkins entity, Bayview operated largely independently. But recently, its operations have become more closely aligned with those of Hopkins Hospital, especially since their two School of Medicine clinical faculty practices combined two years ago. “We’re far more collaborative now,” says Schaffer. “Department by department, everyone is really focused on the importance of having these two hospitals complement each other.”

In the years ahead, Schaffer expects that change will continue to come fast and furious. But no matter how many new beds or labs appear, and no matter how many buildings get built or rehabbed, Schaffer thinks it's important to stay true to the storied history of the institution. He counts in no small measure on Bayview's employees to accomplish that.

“This place has a wonderful personality,” he says. “Part of that is left over from City Hospitals, from its mission of caring for the poor and being the hospital of last resort. For a long time this place has attracted employees who dealt with their patients from a real position of compassion. That has stayed with us. And I think it will be here for a long time to come.”

Jim Duffy

 

 

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