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HCGH History, Celebrating 40 Years

Building site, April 1971

James Rouse, Columbia’s developer, realized that residents of the new town would need convenient and superior medical care. He wanted a health care delivery system as unique as the model city rising in the heart of a farming community. Rouse turned to The Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Connecticut General Insurance Company, which was financing Columbia's development, for help. On October 1, 1969, Johns Hopkins, in partnership with the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, entered into a new, prepaid voluntary health insurance plan with a primary emphasis on prevention of illness, open to all citizens of Columbia, called the Columbia Medical Plan.

Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) was founded in July 1973, as the Columbia Hospital and Clinics Foundation. The hospital, with just 59 beds, was originally designed to provide inpatient support for members of the Columbia Medical Plan, providing short-term care, such as overnight stays, infant deliveries and simple surgery. Patients suffering serious or more involved illnesses were to be transferred to the large, specialty teaching hospitals in Baltimore.

Even before the hospital opened, however, the local medical community realized that Howard County needed a full-service hospital. Within a year, the facility was turned over to a community-based board of trustees and became a private, not-for-profit institution, a model hospital in a model community.

In 1978, Lutheran Hospital submitted a proposal to build another hospital in Howard County. The Maryland Health Resources Planning Commission turned down that proposal.

Through the years, the hospital has grown to accommodate the needs of the community. Today, the diverse community we serve benefits from a full range of specialists, including a medical staff of nearly 900 physicians and allied health professionals, representing nearly 100 sub-specialties. Ninety-three percent of the physicians are board certified in their specialty.

The hospital now has 249 licensed beds and has a staff of more than 1,700. It is the fourth largest private employer in Howard County and employs nearly 1,000 Howard County residents. A diverse workforce, 44 percent of the hospital staff are minorities, representing 59 different countries.

More than 440 volunteers contributed over 39,000 hours of service last year. We provided service to more than 204,000 people, including: 3,333 babies born, 77,488 emergency room visits, 13,358 surgeries performed and 68,253 people treated in outpatient services. Our outreach and wellness programs provided health information and screening services to over 40,000 people this past year.

The hospital receives many awards, including recognition from our adult and pediatric emergency services, stroke program, cardiac interventions, and overall awards for excellence in community hospitals. In 2012, Howard County was again named the healthiest county in Maryland.