As a private, non-state-owned teaching hospital adjacent to a predominately low income African American community in Baltimore, the University of Maryland Medical System (hereafter called the Medical System) in partnership with the state's medical school has historically provided excellent medical care to the community's residents regardless of their ability to pay. Nevertheless, executive leadership recognized that the Medical System needed to be even more socially and economically responsible to the minority community by investing more of the system's resources in that community. Doing so would improve the economic strength of the community, and this strength would help the Medical System to continue to thrive and expand its business in Baltimore City. Therefore, in the late 1980s, the Medical System created a program that focuses on greater inclusion of minorities particularly African Americans, in personnel, construction, purchasing, and community outreach. In the area of personnel, recruitment efforts have focused on increasing the representation of minorities, particularly African Americans, in management and residency positions. The result has been the creation of a more supportive environment for minority personnel throughout the organization as well as for minority patients and vendors who have dealings with the medical system. In the area of construction, minority development efforts have included the establishment of a flexible bid-award policy and a partnership with the minority business community. As a result, total construction dollars spent with minority-owned firms increased from $2 million to $18 million over seven years, and the portion of these dollars spent with African American-owned firms increased sixfold. In the area of purchased goods and services, more creative approaches to improving minority participation have been necessary. These have included partnering minority distributors with major suppliers and literally assisting in the creation of new minority firms capable of effectively responding to the competitive marketplace. As a result, purchasing dollars spent with minority-owned firms increased from $1.5 million to $3.2 million in four years, and the portion of these dollars spent with African American-owned firms nearly tripled. In community outreach, a comprehensive program has emerged that includes education, career development, disease prevention, and health promotion activities. The Medical System has encountered many barriers to success in these efforts but fortunately has overcome many of them. This article outlines the methods the system has used to achieve its minority development goals, with particular emphasis on the difficult area of purchasing.
Created Date: 07 May 1997; Completed Date: 07 May 1997; Revised Date: 18 December 2000
© 1996 Association of American Medical Colleges