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Richard Gordon Bennett

Richard Gordon Bennett

Born: June 22, 1956, in Baltimore.

Education: Dartmouth College, A.B. 1978; JHU School of Medicine, M.D. 1982; residency training and fellowship, Baltimore City Hospitals, 1982-1987.

Career Highlights: Director, geriatrics fellowship program; executive medical director, JH Geriatrics Center; senior vice president, medical affairs, JHBMC.

Current position: Executive vice president/chief operating officer, Bayview; Raymond and Anna Lublin Professor in Geriatric Medicine.

Resume extras: Past director, National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel. Co-author, Building Healthy Communities Through Medical-Religious Partnerships.

Who knew? He collects tribal art. (He bought his first pieces as a medical student.)


Rick Bennett: Physician/EVP


Being a geriatrician, Richard Bennett tends to think ahead. The walls of his office are adorned with mementoes of his trips to exotic locales—“places you might not want to visit when you’re 75 or 80,” he says.

That’s why Bennett, 50, has been visiting them now. In the past decade, he has sailed 2,000 miles up the Amazon River from Belém, Brazil, to Iquitos, Peru. He’s gotten up close and personal with mountain gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi game preserve. He’s gone eco-touring in Costa Rica. Western Europe? That can wait until he’s joined the ranks of the elderly.

For now, though, ever since being appointed executive vice president and chief operating officer of Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center last spring, Bennett is not going much of anywhere. Instead, he’s been focusing on the future of the 130-acre campus and a long-range plan that seeks to sustain the growth Bayview has enjoyed since Johns Hopkins assumed control of it in 1984.

Bennett has been a key participant in the medical center’s transformation. He trained at Bayview back when it was Baltimore City Hospitals, then witnessed firsthand its growth. Now he aims to maintain it.

The long-range plan foresees expanded clinical research and additional patient facilities. “A number of buildings on campus could support incremental growth within the same footprint,” he says, citing as examples the Asthma and Allergy Center and the Burton Pavilion, home to the Johns Hopkins Care Center. Each could hold at least one additional floor. As with Hopkins Hospital and Howard Country General Hospital, private rooms are a priority. With so much emphasis on patient privacy and infection control, Bennett explains, they’re what people expect.

“We also want to preserve our green space and offer more panoramic views, both of the city to our west and the harbor and water to our south.”

Bennett brings a special perspective to his work. Since 1937, his family has operated a small Northwest Baltimore care facility for the elderly, and he was raised on the campus where the home still is located. “I was exposed from an early age not only to the delivery of compassionate care to older adults, but also to the business of health care,” Bennett says.

A protégé of William Hazard, Hopkins’ first chief of geriatric medicine, Bennett worked with geriatrician John Burton, founder of the geriatrics fellowship training program. He was a member of the third class of fellows under Burton, who became his most important mentor.

After joining the faculty, Bennett worked in the laboratory of John Bartlett, then chief of infectious diseases, and conducted landmark research on postantibiotic diarrhea, an affliction to which nursing home patients are particularly prone. He went on to do extensive research on pressure ulcers (bed sores) and studied special beds designed to reduce their incidence. He has focused on developing innovative approaches that will allow older adults to live at home with the assistance of programs like Bayview’s Hopkins ElderPlus, which provides services and medical treatment in the home and a day care operation.

Simultaneously with his research and clinical work—he still is an attending physician on the wards—Bennett became an administrative leader at Bayview. Among his other responsibilities, he headed for seven years the fellowship program in which he once had been a participant, overseeing one of the largest groups of clinical and research geriatrics fellows in the nation.

“Rick is an outstanding physician with exceptional interpersonal skills who also understands the business of medicine,” says Bayview president Gregory Schaffer. “He is widely respected and liked. His ability to work with people makes him very effective everywhere.”

The ability to work easily with others, Bennett says, is the key to being a good geriatrician. “Taking care of an old, frail person is very complex. You need to be a member of a team, working with lots of different people with lots of different skill sets to deliver great care.”

—Neil A. Grauer



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