Harford health care's next step [Editorial]

The Aegis

While probably inevitable, Dr. Roger Schneider’s departure as chairman of the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health’s board is not good news for the health care system in Harford County.

One thing that could always be counted on about Schneider in his 25 years as one of the Upper Chesapeake leaders was his candor and his dedication to making Harford County’s two hospitals and ancillary facilities and the doctors and staff working in them the best in the region. He was a no nonsense leader and a prodigious fundraiser motivated only by doing good for a community where he worked for much of his medical career.

In other words, Schneider wasn’t out for Schneider, and the same can’t always be said about people who serve on community boards, including Upper Chesapeake’s.

In his recent exit interview with editors from The Aegis, Schneider said he believed the time had come for new leadership on the Upper Chesapeake Board. It was time to regenerate and move forward to the next era with new faces, new ideas, he said.

Certainly that makes sense, but it also comes with a warning: Will the people who succeed Schneider be as thoughtful and protective of the main pillar of Harford County’s health system as Schneider has been for more than a quarter century?

Can we trust the next group of leaders to be unselfish and committed to excellence? Or, will Upper Chesapeake Health’s board tumble back into the sort of good old boy network that existed prior to the arrival of Schneider and several like-minded folks in the mid-1990s? The Upper Chesapeake board controls its membership, so those remaining need to take heed when they select their next leaders that Harford County residents have a major stake in this organization and the services it provides to their families. All of us expect committed, knowledgeable and driven leaders with the best interests of the community at the core, not the best interests of well connected individuals or for that matter the University of Maryland Health System that currently controls Upper Chesapeake.

As he has done as a practicing physician, Roger Schneider set high standards for the health care services Upper Chesapeake provides to Harford and neighboring counties. He worked hard to see those standards were lived up to and that excellence was achieved. We’ve said often that Harford County would not have the first class medical services it has today were it not for Schneider’s drive and determination to bring them here. We as a community owe him much gratitude for what he accomplished leading the Upper Chesapeake Health board.

We also owe him and ourselves a promise that the health system’s future continues to be one of excellence and accomplishment and continues to build on the high standards set by Schneider and other leaders. Let’s all be sure that Upper Chesapeake Health continues to be led forward and in the best interests of all Harford County residents.

avought@theaegis.com

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