Interim chief named Maryland General CEO


Maryland General Hospital, a 227-bed community teaching hospital near downtown Baltimore, named interim President Sylvia Smith Johnson as its next president and chief executive officer, the University of Maryland Medical System announced yesterday.

Smith Johnson, 53, has served as interim president since November, when her predecessor, Colene Daniel, left to head two hospitals in Washington. A former chief operating officer at Maryland General, she has more than 30 years of hospital management experience.

As interim president, Smith Johnson said, she has focused on improving the quality of patient care and on rebuilding the volume of patient admissions, which had declined in the wake of a laboratory scandal in 2004.

"We've been successful with both of those things," Smith Johnson said. "We're not where we want to be; we have opportunities to improve and grow, and that's the focus going forward, that we remain entirely attentive to patient quality and to growth."

She said the improvements, including higher scores in quality indicators used by all Maryland hospitals, have helped the hospital reverse losses that it has shown in the past two fiscal years. Maryland General is on track to make a $1 million profit in the fiscal year ending June 30, she said. Admission volume has grown as well, by 14 percent over the past 12 months, she said.

In the spring of 2004, Maryland General, one of six in the University of Maryland Medical System, was found by a team of state, federal and private inspectors to be "rife with equipment failures" and to have issued hundreds of possibly inaccurate HIV and hepatitis lab test results. The facility was ordered to fix the problems or face fines. The widespread problems led to the resignation of former president and CEO Timothy D. Miller in April 2004.

In a statement announcing the appointment, Edmond F. Notebaert, UMMS president and chief executive officer, called Smith Johnson "an exceptionally skilled and talented leader with extensive health care experience."

Smith Johnson had worked for the University of Maryland Medical Center from 1976 through 2004, when she was vice president for operations. In 2004, she became the COO of Maryland General, where she was responsible for overseeing 400 employees and a $30 million budget. In her new role, she will oversee 1,500 workers and a $135 million budget.

Smith Johnson, a Hunt Valley resident, earned a bachelor of science degree in management from the University of Maryland, University College and a master's in business administration from Loyola College.

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