TODAY'S scheduled announcement of Maryland General Hospital's merger into the larger University of Maryland Medical System is a welcome development for residents of downtown Baltimore and for west side redevelopment efforts.
This sound business move should strengthen University's health-care system while assuring that two thriving medical centers will anchor renewal along Howard Street.
Maryland General is a low-cost, 300-bed community hospital; University is a high-cost, 747-bed teaching and specialty-care facility. Together, the two can save on overhead and consolidate programs, with Maryland General handling routine patients and University focusing on difficult cases.
This could be the first step in a larger medical consolidation on Baltimore's west side. University is discussing partnership arrangements with Bon Secours Hospital, which is doing its own downsizing: concentrating inpatient services at one site while earmarking other health services for its Liberty Medical Center campus.
Such mergers and affiliations are common across the country. The Baltimore region has far too many hospital beds. Competition for managed-care contracts is driving hospitals to seek partners that help them lower costs while broadening health-care outreach.
University has a deserved reputation as a research and teaching hospital; Maryland General has long served the downtown area. Together, they will form a dynamic team that offers patients a better array of medical options.