Primary Care Where Everybody Knows Your Name

by Bara L. Vaida

On its first floor, the building houses a nontraditional primary care clinic that provides not only the classic checkup with a physician but also access to care coordination, behavioral and social services, and self-care education classes.

“We are primary care with a flair,” says Sharon Cameron, manager of community clinics at Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC), which opened the Morris Blum practice in 2013 in collaboration with the City of Annapolis, the Anne Arundel County health department, and the state. AAMC’s nonprofit hospital is the third-busiest in the state. It also runs a multispecialist physicians’ group, an imaging center, a substance abuse treatment center, and outpatient clinics.1,2

At Morris Blum, the clinic has walk-in appointments, a bilingual staff, a care coordinator who will help patients figure out their insurance and how to get to a specialist, and a pharmacist who tailors medications for patients. Patients are welcome to hang out in the waiting area, even if they don’t have an appointment.

“We wanted the clinic to be the health care equivalent of Cheers, where everyone knows you and greets you by name, even if you’re late for an appointment or dropping by unexpectedly,” says Patricia Czapp, the former chair of clinical integration at AAMC and a cofounder of the clinic. “This departs from the traditional practice, where patients might be turned away if they’re a little late or are often expected to navigate the health system alone, without assistance.”

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