Baltimore Medical System was founded in 1984 when the Baltimore City Health Department asked the new non-profit organization to take on the operation of four existing Health Department clinics. The four sites that BMS took over were all located in east Baltimore City. Since that time, BMS has grown considerably, expanding to other underserved communities, including Baltimore County, which we began serving through our Middlesex Health Center in 1998.
In 1987, BMS was the first ambulatory care organization in Maryland to be accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. BMS was also the first Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) to be Joint Commission accredited in the Central Eastern seaboard states.
In 1988, BMS began its School Based Health program, providing critical access to health care for over 1000 Baltimore City school children annually.
In collaboration with the Baltimore City Health Department, BMS ran an innovative program for Medicare beneficiaries, allowing the senior citizens of Baltimore to receive pharmacy and other related health benefits. At that time, prescription medications were not covered by Medicare. For over 20 years, under what was known as the Municipal Health Services Program, BMS made a unique and effective mix of health services available to over 5000 seniors. This program finally came to an end in 2006.
Among the proudest moments in BMS history have been those occasions when we have stepped up to care for medically underserved residents who were about to lose their historical health care provider. This first occurred in 1990 when by agreement with a Johns Hopkins Bayview physician group, BMS took over a practice in Highlandtown. A few years later, we assisted 2000 residents of the O'Donnell Heights neighborhood when the FQHC serving their area suddenly closed.
This history of absorbing needy patients, regardless of insurance status and ability to pay, continued throughout the 1990's and into the new millennium. We opened a second site in Highlandtown in 2000, taking over a practice from Maryland General Hospital. We were invited to our current location on the campus of the St. Agnes Hospital in 2004, when we took over a number of St. Agnes hospital outpatient practices. In 2006, patients transferred to BMS through an orderly process when the Greater Baltimore Medical Center's downtown Weinberg Center closed.
BMS has become the provider of choice for a growing population of new immigrants in the Baltimore area. We have made special efforts to become culturally competent and to build a multi-cultural and bilingual staff, which allows us to serve over 8000 people of Hispanic origin and approximately 3000 refugees relocated to Baltimore.
Today, BMS operates 5 health centers and serves approximately 46,000 patients. We are the largest FQHC in Maryland and we look forward to the next chapter in our history of meeting community needs and promoting the broadest definition of health and well-being.