Howard County launched an initiative Friday which aims to bring doctors to the community and retain them in the area.

The Practice Howard initiative comes amid a concern that an aging doctor population will create a gap and leave Howard residents with longer wait times to receive care or schedule appointments, a press release said.


County Executive Calvin Ball announced the initiative, that he said will help the county “address a critical need for doctors,” Friday morning at the Medical Pavilion at Howard County in Columbia.

“Our goal is to make Howard County the healthiest community in the country,” Ball said in a statement Friday. “We all know that our community is a wonderful place to call home, and through the Practice Howard program, more doctors will be coming home to Howard County.”

Howard County is partnering with Howard County General Hospital on a program to bring more primary care physicians to the community.

The recruitment program will target primary care providers and give funding for loan repayment, practice support and specialized training in exchange for staying five years in Howard County. The program would cost $60,000 per year per doctor, according to an opinion column that Ball and Howard County General Hospital President Steve Snelgrove wrote for The Baltimore Sun.

“Through a formal bid process that included hospital, county and community representation, two medical practices have been selected to participate in the first year of the program, and two doctors are expected to start by the summer,” Ball and Snelgrove wrote.

Columbia Medical Practice and Centennial Medical Group were the selected practices, according to a Friday news release. The doctors are expected to start by the summer.

The initiative is estimated to give 4,000 residents “better access to primary care,” according to the release.

“Making sure there is access to care is a critical component of the health of our community … [and] our hospital is committed to working with our partners to address this challenge … ” Snelgrove said in a statement Friday.

Howard County was recently named the 10th healthiest community in the country by U.S. News & World Report.