How the Vision of Jeanne Baetjer and Elizabeth Yaggy Transformed Healthcare in Baltimore County
It took determination and unwavering commitment to establish GBMC. At a time when Towson was considered to be "in the country" and Baltimore City housed the majority of the area's health systems, the notion of developing GBMC was met with much resistance. However, thanks to the late Mrs. Jeanne H. Baetjer and Mrs. Elizabeth Duncan Yaggy, many key community members gained enthusiasm, interest and a willingness to financially support the development of the high-quality health system the Greater Baltimore community knows today.
While serving as President of the Hospital of the Women of Maryland, of Baltimore City, Mrs. Jeanne H. Baetjer understood the need for a hospital in the Towson area. Mrs. Baetjer oversaw the massive building project from 1962 to 1965, which combined Women's Hospital with the Presbyterian Eye, Ear and Throat Charity Hospital to establish GBMC. She was even elected and served as the first President of the Board of Trustees.
Mrs. Yaggy came from a family that was passionate about community and women's health. Her mother served as a board member of The Hospital for the Women of Maryland, of Baltimore City (Women's Hospital). Eventually, in the 1950s, Mrs. Yaggy herself became president of the board of the same hospital. She also recognized that increasingly more people were moving into Baltimore County and she saw a need to establish a healthcare entity within the county to serve that population. The Yaggy family worked hard to negotiate the sale of land on the Sheppard Pratt hillside, and Mrs. Yaggy made the first gift to start a capital fund to purchase this land, which would later become home to GBMC. In addition to Mrs. Yaggy's efforts, her husband, Edward Yaggy, served as the chair of the building committee for the construction of GBMC. Both Mrs. Baetjer and Mrs. Yaggy continued to offer their leadership, dedication and support to GBMC throughout their lifetimes. Both women's names can be seen in various areas throughout the hospital in tribute to their commitment to patient care.
In 2004, the members of the Women's Hospital Foundation generously endowed The H. Norman Baetjer, Jr. and Jeanne H. Baetjer Center for Nursing Excellence. The Center is a wonderful legacy Mrs. Baetjer was proud of because it promotes nursing at GBMC through the development of educational opportunities and programs that encourage excellence and recognize achievement in nursing.
Cindy Crawley, President of the Women’s Hospital Foundation adds some perspective on how Mrs. Baetjer’s vision impacted GBMC patients, long-term. “Jeanne was very committed,” said Mrs. Crawley. "If she had a vision, she worked hard to make it a reality. And that is why GBMC exists today.”
Mrs. Yaggy's memory lives on in the picturesque Yaggy/Obstetrics Atrium, a fitting dedication given her passion for women's health. Additionally, the GBMC Foundation created the Elizabeth Duncan Yaggy Society to recognize individuals who, like Mrs. Yaggy, have shown the foresight to invest in the future of GBMC through gifts in their wills, charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts, or by designating GBMC as the beneficiary of a retirement plan account. According to Mrs. Yaggy's son, Michael, GBMC's vision phrase — to every patient, every time, we will provide the care that we would want for our own loved ones — is exactly on par with the founders' original goals for the organization.
"My mother would say, and I think Mrs. Baetjer would agree, that we need to implement a patient care focus and be nimble and responsive to patients' needs," he said. "She would be proud of the way GBMC has grown and branched out to various areas of Baltimore County. I believe she would've wanted the hospital to provide service where it's most convenient for patients."
The Board of Lady Managers: Dedicated to the People of GBMC
Another talented group of women is responsible for developing GBMC into the high-quality healthcare system it is today. The Board of Lady Managers (BOLM), created to assist The Presbyterian Eye, Ear and Throat Charity Hospital in 1877, has contributed volunteers, material goods and money since it and Women's Hospital joined to form GBMC in 1965. Providing patient assistance, especially for the underserved population, is a major focus of BOLM donations. Engaged in and dedicated to their work, BOLM members meet quarterly on campus to hear reports from various departments, tour new facilities and services and keep current on GBMC initiatives. They very generously support many aspects of the hospital, including the Richard E. Hoover Rehabilitation Services for Low Vision and Blindness, to continue their legacy as an eye, ear and throat hospital. GBMC is honored that the Board of Lady Managers remains a significant partner.