GBMC president Dr. John B. Chessare is pictured on the stairwell in the Yaggy Atrium of the hospital.
GBMC president Dr. John B. Chessare is pictured on the stairwell in the Yaggy Atrium of the hospital. (Algerina Perna / Baltimore Sun)

Greater Baltimore Medical Center has raised more than $50 million leading up to its 50th anniversary, but rather than investing in new buildings, the leaders of the Towson-based medical center plan to spend the money enhancing primary and specialty services.

"We just didn't think we needed a whole lot of new beds or a new tower because that isn't our mission," said Dr. John B. Chessare, president and chief executive officer of the GBMC HealthCare system. "We're about the triple aim of better health, better care and lower costs, and not about market share."


The hospital brought in $54.7 million over three years from small area donors, doctors and other employees and some larger foundations, according to officials who planned to announce the total at a gala on Friday evening.

Chessare said the independent facility plans to stay that way, bucking a local and national trend of consolidation and expansion as a way to offer patients more services and gain economies of scale.

He and others said the hospital will instead spend funds to expand primary care facilities in the Baltimore region and add days and hours of service. It also will endow two department chairs in ophthalmology and pediatrics in an effort to better coordinate care and stay atop the latest advances; improve its electronic medical records so every provider is linked to the latest patient data; and plan for a new center for urology.

That facility will be named for the Sykesville-based Kahlert Foundation, which donated $5 million. The foundation also recently gave funding to spiritual services at GBMC in honor of foundation president Greg Kahlert's mother, Yvonne.

GBMC opened its doors in 1965 after the merger of the Hospital for Women of Maryland and Presbyterian Eye, Ear and Throat Charity Hospital, and now occupies a 72-acre campus off North Charles Street.

Chessare said staying relatively small with one 245-bed facility has allowed the hospital to more easily pursue trends showing promise in improving delivery of care.

It recently upgraded an on-campus primary care facility, modeling it in part after Toyota's production system. The goal was to give patients more coordinated and efficient service.

In all, there are 45 physician practices affiliated with the hospital in Baltimore and surrounding counties, and another one or two may be added in the next year or so.

The latest investments also aim to make some services more "holistic" in their care, said Bonnie B. Stein, chair of the GBMC HealthCare Inc. board of directors and chair of the 50th anniversary executive planning committee.

Some funding will be used to send counselors to the homes of families with children in hospice care so they don't have to leave their own beds, she said. At the other end of the age spectrum, neurology services will provide doctors additional means to treat and prevent strokes in their patients.

For women who have been victims of domestic violence or rape, Stein said, the hospital's forensic nurses plan to continue collecting evidence but also ensure the women get care for other health problems that might have gone untreated.

"We want to take care of all the community's needs," she said.