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BWMC President and CEO Announces Retirement

Walker responsible for medical center's dramatic growth and steady

commitment to community over nearly four decades

GLEN BURNIE, Md., Sept. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- After 38 years at Baltimore Washington Medical Center, 15 of those as president and CEO, James R. Walker has announced his intention to retire by June 2008. The announcement was made last night at the BWMC Board of Directors meeting.

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"I have spent my entire professional career at this outstanding organization," Walker said. "I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished over the years."

Walker celebrated his 38th anniversary at BWMC on September 17. He began his career at BWMC in 1969, just four years after the hospital -- then known as North Arundel Hospital -- opened its doors. From 1969 to 1977, he was an assistant administrator, and from 1977 to 1992, he was an executive vice president serving as chief operating officer. He was named president and CEO in 1992 and has led the medical center through significant changes and growth during his tenure.

In 1992, when Walker became CEO, the hospital admitted 15,346 patients and treated 44,066 patients in its emergency department. Now, the hospital's emergency department has become one of the state's busiest, treating over 85,000 patients a year. The medical center's admissions have also increased, with 18,366 patients admitted last year.

Walker has overseen several major building projects on the BWMC campus, including five expansions to the emergency department, the addition of a new inpatient building in 1998 and the Tate Cancer Center in 2003. BWMC is currently in the midst of a $117 million expansion project that will add private inpatient beds, increase critical care capacity, expand the emergency department once again, and bring obstetrics back to the hospital for the first time since 1968.

"My decision to announce my retirement a year in advance is driven by a very personal desire to do everything I can to help BWMC secure its future," said Walker. "It provides BWMC's Board of Directors and the University of Maryland Medical System adequate time to find an outstanding successor and have an orderly transition."

Walker guided BWMC through its merger with the University of Maryland Medical System in 2000. The merger allowed the hospital to expand its services to its local community. Major programs such as the Tate Cancer Center, Joslin Diabetes Center, and The Maryland Vascular Center have brought more comprehensive, complex patient care services to Anne Arundel County. These programs were recognized, along with the entire medical center, in 2006 when Solucient(R) named BWMC one of the nation's Top 100 Hospitals.

"The quality of patient care has improved dramatically and the scope of services provided has certainly grown during Jim's tenure," said Edmond F. Notebaert, president and CEO of the University of Maryland Medical System. "He continues to raise the bar higher and higher for the hospital, its staff and physicians. Jim has never been satisfied with just being good; he strives to be the best. His vision for BWMC has never wavered, as he seeks to provide the highest quality of care for the community in the best facilities."

In 2005, Walker spearheaded the hospital's name change from North Arundel Hospital to Baltimore Washington Medical Center.

"That was a difficult decision for me personally because I had built my career as part of North Arundel Hospital," Walker said. "North Arundel was my home. But the change signified our commitment to expand our reach and services to serve the growing communities that surround us. Our new name reflects the progress that we have made over the years and our vision for the future."

"As CEO, Jim Walker has created a culture which is reflective of his own character as a leader and a humanitarian," said Melvin Kelly, chairman of the BWMC Board of Directors. "He values teamwork, family, hard work and celebrations of achievement. It is to Jim's credit that the staff, physicians and patients at BWMC feel a sense of 'family.' I am convinced that this is the reason for BWMC's consistently outstanding performance in retaining excellent employees. Just this past year, BWMC was named the BWI Partnership's Employer of the Year."

Walker has not only been instrumental in BWMC's success, but the success of many community groups and service organizations in and around Anne Arundel County. He is also a Fellow of the American College of Health Care Executives and is a member of the American Vascular Association Board of Directors.

"I will certainly miss being a part of this exceptional organization on a daily basis," he said. "But I am excited by the possibilities that are ahead for this medical center. I have had a tremendous career here that has allowed me to serve this wonderful community and be surrounded by exceptional people. I am very confident that my successor will have an equally rewarding experience as BWMC continues its quest to be the best community medical center in Maryland."

SOURCE Baltimore Washington Medical Center
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