When Baltimore County's Local Management Board began data-mapping areas of low birth weight, one neighborhood got a red dot — an area of Essex known for its transient, low-income apartment-dwellers, teenage mothers, substance abuse and a lack of churches, grocery stores and community leadership.
That raised the eyebrows of a pediatrician from Lutherville.
"Low birth weight isn't on anybody's radar screen," said Dr. Scott Krugman, chairman of pediatrics at Franklin Square Hospital, the local hospital for the Essex area and the southeast side of the county. But for Krugman and his staff, "it stood out. It was in our backyard. "We felt like we had to do something about it. It's our community. We feel responsible for the health of our community."
Now, Krugman is leading the hospital's efforts to offer breastfeeding classes and other "healthy baby" initiatives in the neighborhood near Deep Creek Elementary School, which he would not identify. He calls the effort "our biggest five-year-goal."
Such work is being recognized by the Maryland chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which announced last week that it has named Krugman, 46, its 2015 Pediatrician of the Year.
"It was a great honor and a tribute to all those who have supported me," said Krugman, a married father of two teenage boys, who was nominated for the annual award. But he said the honor has less to do with him than with the success of the Franklin Square pediatrics department, which has grown from five pediatricians in 1998 to 22.
"I think it was recognition for what we've accomplished," he said, noting that the American Academy of Pediatrics has also recognized the Maryland chapter as its most outstanding large chapter nationwide.
A press release by Medstar's Franklin Square Hospital calls Krugman "a dedicated clinician and committed leader and educator," adding, "This prestigious recognition demonstrates Dr. Krugman's role as an instrumental champion for the health and well-being of children."
According to the press release, he received votes from more than 25 chapter members of the academy.
Krugman, who has worked for the hospital since 1998 and has been chairman of pediatrics since 2002, cites as the department's biggest accomplishment the creation of a statewide performance improvement network, a kind of continuing education initiative in which pediatricians meet monthly to discuss best practices and track the most recent data on topics such as asthma and obesity.
"I was one of the founders of that network," he said.
"Dr. Krugman is much deserving of this honor," said Dr. Anthony Sclama, vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer at Franklin Square Hospital. "Not only is Dr. Krugman a top clinician, but his ongoing leadership and commitment to education continues to shape and advance the field of pediatrics."
Krugman is past president of the Maryland chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and is a clinical professor in the departments of Pediatrics and Epidemiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He is also chair emeritus of the Child Maltreatment Committee of the Maryland chapter, chair of the Baltimore County Child Fatality Review Team, and co-chair of the strategic planning committee for The Family Tree. He is medical director of MedStar Franklin Square's Child Protection Team, which evaluates more than 300 children at the hospital each year. He is also a member of the State Council on Child Abuse and Neglect and the Baltimore County Child Protection Review Panel, among other boards.
Krugman, who grew up in Denver, Colo., graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont and then from Dartmouth College Medical School in New Hampshire. After completing a residency at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, Krugman came to Franklin Square Hospital as one of its first staff pediatricians, at a time when the department was made up of mostly community-based physicians, "who would come in and help out" at the hospital, he said. The department in 1998 had four full-time and one part-time pediatrician.
Krugman said his original plan was to eventually move back to New England.
"And here I am in Baltimore, raising kids," he said.