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Green Spring Celebrates 10 years
Reception: Wednesday, June 30, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (Invitation only)
All-Employee Picnic: Thursday, July 1, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
All Hopkins employees, patients and other tenants invited.

 

Growing Green Spring
On its 10th birthday, Hopkins' first suburban outpatient center plans to add more space and specialists


Gill Wylie is leading the charge in the five-year battle for the right to expand at Green Spring.
Ever since it opened its doors, Johns Hopkins at Green Spring Station has been on a roll. What started as a relatively small enterprise with several dozen physicians based in one pavilion rapidly attracted additional practices and support services. Today, 10 years, additional offices and an entire second pavilion later, Green Spring has more than 235 part-time and full-time faculty physicians who treat some 300,000 patients each year. That translates into no less than $100 million worth of business for Johns Hopkins Medicine.

So now the question is: What can Green Spring possibly do for an encore? Given the steady demand among patients, the flourishing practices, the increasing space constraints, the answer, not surprisingly, is to expand.

But expansion, in this sensitive corner of Baltimore County, is easier said than done. Putting up as much as a snowball stand could cause an uproar. And Hopkins wants to build a three-story edifice where the Greenspring Racquet Club now stands. With a large (50,000 square feet) footprint surrounded by surface parking, it would house a multispecialty surgery center, a state-of-the-art imaging suite and physician offices. A fitness center and several shops would serve not only patients but also the community at large.

A chief goal is to expand in a way that meets the needs of not only Hopkins Medicine but also the surrounding neighborhoods. Paradoxically, one of Green Spring’s greatest strengths—its accessible location amid the well-to-do communities north of Baltimore at the nexus of the Baltimore Beltway, Jones Falls Expressway, and Falls, Joppa and Green Spring Valley roads—also poses its greatest challenge.

“We were already concerned about this complex 40 years ago when Green Spring was still a place for pony rides and ice cream,” says Jack Dillon, executive director of the Valleys Planning Council, an influential land preservation group in the area. “Green Spring is at the edge of an urban/rural area. It’s a collection point. Traffic is heavy, and over-developing could bring in additional congestion.” The sewer line is near capacity, he adds; the intersection, overburdened.

For five years, Hopkins, the community and at least three developers have been locked in a legal battle, vying for the rights to further develop Green Spring. In the thick of it all is Gill Wylie, president of Broadway Medical Management Corp, the for-profit subsidiary of Hopkins Hospital that developed and runs Johns Hopkins at Green Spring Station and other Hopkins suburban medical centers, including White Marsh, which will officially open $5.8 million worth of new space in September. In his conference room, bookshelves are lined with bulging white binders documenting the battle for Green Spring, each with stark labels like “legal,” “sewer,” “water,” “parking” and “traffic”—a testament to his due diligence.

Wylie also has taken care to keep the community informed. In April, he invited neighbors on a bus trip to Bucks County, Pa., to preview the type of medical/fitness facility envisioned for Green Spring. This attentiveness appears to be paying off. Says Dillon: “Johns Hopkins has an excellent reputation in the community. If they come up with a plan that is architecturally pleasing, the community would rather have Hopkins there.”

Ironically, it took only two years, from July 1992 to July 1994, to plan, build and open Johns Hopkins at Green Spring Station. The brainchild of James Block, president of The Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1992 until 1996, it was one of several ventures launched as a hedge against the mounting pressures and uncertainties of managed care. “The hospital wanted tight linkage between part-time, referring physicians; the referring physicians wanted a link with their full-time colleagues,” recalls Dana Frank, a private physician whose primary care practice, Park Medical Associates, was one of the first to come to Green Spring. “For the most part, Green Spring has done that.”

Frank is among 70 part-time faculty physicians who practice at Green Spring. These doctors donate 100 to 150 hours each year, on average, to teaching, clinical care or research. “You have the opportunity to admit downtown and associate with your full-time colleagues,” says Ira Fine, a private physician who for seven years has been chairman of Green Spring’s board of governors. Best of all, says Fine, is the ability to refer patients to Hopkins specialists, including even those department chiefs who regularly come out to Green Spring.

Along with the bricks and mortar, Green Spring physicians hope to add more specialists to their ranks so that more patients can be taken care of on site. “We are targeting doctors on the full-time faculty between the ages of 30 and 40 who are building their careers,” says Wylie. “By offering them the space and support they need to build their practices, we believe we can develop a lasting, strong referral base in the North Baltimore communities.”

To be sure, no one will have to bend over backwards to attract doctors to Green Spring. “This is a wonderful setting for practicing medicine,” says Paul Auwaerter, an internist on the full-time faculty who leads a practice of six physicians. “We have more control in our little office than we would downtown, and we’ve had no employee turnover.”

Patients, too, like Green Spring. It’s easy to get around, parking is free, and it offers what’s known as a “gentle introduction” to the Hopkins system for those who might otherwise be intimidated.

What will Green Spring look like on its next big birthday? In 10 years—if the infrastructure problems can be ironed out, if community support remains strong, if new specialists can be successfully integrated into the enterprise—Green Spring will likely be bigger and better than ever before.

Anne Bennett Swingle

 

 

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