After operating for 105 years within Baltimore City, the Johns Hopkins Health System and the faculty physicians of Hopkins' School of Medicine have opened their first joint outpost in the suburbs -- Johns Hopkins at Green Spring Station.
More than 300 physicians, administrators and family members yesterday toured the four-story, $12 million building, part of the Green Spring Station development near Falls and Joppa roads in Lutherville.
Hopkins' health system operates 18 primary care centers throughout the region and has working agreements with the Prudential health care plan and others.
But the Green Spring facility marks the first time that the health system, in conjunction with physicians on the faculty of Hopkins' world-renowned medical school, have moved to the suburbs to be more accessible to patients.
Even though construction isn't complete, it's already 100 percent leased and physicians are rushing to occupy space in adjacent buildings.
"It's a new model" for health care delivery, said Thomas Provost, chairman of the Department of Dermatology and medical director of University Shared Services.
"The exciting thing is we're mixing part-time faculty, who have been very successful in their own practices, who are experts in delivering timely care, with full-time professors who are cutting-edge in their field. . . . I believe this is going to be a model that has a lot of appeal to private physicians."
Although it has a cupola on top that is vaguely reminiscent of the dome atop Hopkins' administration building in East Baltimore, the new structure bears little resemblance to the sprawling medical campus on Broadway.
Inside, areas are planned for primary care, eye care, cardiology and women's health. Private doctors' offices and the university's consultation practice will be joined by radiology and laboratory services, an optician and a branch of the Tuxedo Pharmacy on Roland Avenue.
An "urgent care" center is open 14 hours a day, 365 days a year, to treat illnesses and injuries of patients who do not have an appointment. It's the first Baltimore-area outlet for Patient First, a Virginia-based chain.
Doctors began moving into the facility several months ago and will continue to take occupancy over the next few months. About 70 full-time members of the medical school faculty will participate in Hopkins' group practice at the center, offering specialty services alongside primary care doctors in private practice. The private practitioners will make up 75 percent of the enterprise.
"It's extremely important for the future of Hopkins that we develop strong bonds between these groups," Dr. Provost said. "Green Spring provides a conduit for this."
Hopkins representatives say the institution is not abandoning the city by moving into the county.
In the long run, they say, the suburban facility most likely will add to the activity in East Baltimore, since patients treated for minor illnesses at Green Spring may be more inclined to go to Hopkins' East Baltimore campus when they need more sophisticated treatment.
In addition to the convenient location, they say, Green Spring offers easy access to Hopkins' primary care physicians and specialists, a "patient-friendly" environment and free parking.
David Guyton, a pediatric ophthalmologist with Hopkins' Wilmer Eye Institute, said he spends one day a week in Lutherville and the rest of his time in East Baltimore. He said local patients are discovering that he's easier to reach in the county.
"At the moment, I'm booked up three months in advance" in East Baltimore, he said. "Out here, I'm booked up two weeks in advance.
"We're delighted with it so far. The surroundings are very pleasant, and everyone likes the free parking."
Internist Dana Frank, a part-time Hopkins faculty member who helped conceive the project, said Green Spring has a more intimate, collegial atmosphere that is attractive to physicians and patients.
"Part of the fun of practicing medicine -- and practicing medicine is still fun -- is interaction with your colleagues," he said. "Here, there's more opportunity for interaction, and the staff feels a sense of ownership. That's good for patients."
The idea for the 75,000-square-foot satellite came from hospital President James Block. It was modeled on a similar project launched by Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and University Hospitals in Cleveland, where Dr. Block was president before joining Hopkins in 1992.
Dr. Block has predicted that if the Green Spring facility is successful, Hopkins "will do a similar facility in another part of the metropolitan area."
Built starting in 1979 by Peddy, Fredeking and Mullan, Green Spring Station is a mixed-use development containing more than 400,000 square feet of office and retail space. It was selected as the location for Hopkins' satellite largely because of its accessibility to the Beltway, Interstate 83 and other major roads.
During yesterday's open house, physicians said they and their patients have been delighted with the new facility.
"It's been a seamless transition," said Morton Goldberg, director of the Wilmer Eye Institute. "The patients love it."
Harold Davidov, managing partner of the Tuxedo Pharmacy, sees it as the wave of the future.
"This is the way medicine is going to be practiced in the next generation," he said. "People can go to a building, see their physicians, get their prescriptions filled and be on their way. It's one-stop shopping, only in a medical atmosphere."
To lease space, physicians must have admitting privileges at Hopkins Hospital and an academic appointment to Hopkins' School of Medicine, Dr. Frank said. Eventually, Green Spring will be a teaching site for Hopkins' medical students as well, he added.
Office space has been in such demand that Hopkins has leased another 20,000 square feet in a neighboring building, the Joppa Concourse, to accommodate more physicians.
Hopkins' building is a joint venture of the Johns Hopkins Health System, the School of Medicine and the Board of Governors of Johns Hopkins at Green Spring Station.
D'Aleo Inc. was the architect. The Mullan Contracting Co. is the builder. An open house is planned for 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. today.