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Hospitals focus on preventive care


County hospital and health department leaders foresee changes in their profession that would put the focus more on keeping people healthy, rather than just treating illnesses.

Those changes will be discussed today by leaders of the county's two hospitals, the health department and the county Department of Aging during a forum at Anne Arundel Community College. The event is free and open to the public.

"There is a real effort to keep people healthy," said Carolyn Shenk, a spokeswoman for Anne Arundel Medical Center. "By having people take responsibility for their health, by cooperatively working on a community health plan for our county, we can prevent a lot of health problems."

Ms. Shenk said the two hospitals and county health agencies hope that the forum will make people think of health care as beginning with individuals, not with doctors or institutions.

The changing focus can be seen in the availability of health care in the county. Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis and North Arundel Hospital in Glen Burnie used to be the primary places for medical care. Today the county has at least a dozen outpatient surgical centers providing procedures once available only in hospitals. Also, day treatment centers and private clinics have opened.

The forum will feature Leland R. Kaiser, a professor of health administration at the University of Colorado at Denver. He will speak on how communities and hospitals can forge working relationships. State Secretary of Health Martin P. Wasserman, County Executive John G. Gary and County Council Chairwoman Diane Evans also plan to participate.

After the forum, county health care leaders plan to survey county residents on their health care concerns.

"Since health care is changing so rapidly, we don't want to lose focus on taking care of the community," said Kevin Murnane, a spokesman for North Arundel.

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