Mercy Medical Center has been at the center of medical care in the heart of Baltimore since six Sisters of Mercy led by Sister Mary Augustine Gwynne arrived in the city to take charge of Baltimore City Hospital in 1874. Since then, the institution has thrived and is now widely acknowledged as a leading health care facility in the United States, ranked as the third-best hospital in Maryland for 2016-17 by U.S. News & World Report and the 47th best hospital in the nation specifically for orthopedics.
The Weinberg Center for Women’s Health & Medicine at Mercy is also recognized as a leader in women’s health care, particularly when it comes to women’s midlife cancers. The Weinberg Center, a $42 million outpatient center that houses the Weinberg Center for Women’s Health & Medicine and the Institute for Cancer Care at Mercy, was opened in 2003.
“Traditionally, the Sisters of Mercy help the sick with a focus on women’s and children’s care,” said Tom Mullen, president and CEO of Mercy Medical Center. “In 1991, we decided to create this center for women’s health and medicine because it held to the Sisters’ and our mission and helped to fit a need in Baltimore. From there, we began to recruit and develop programs that led us to where we are today.”
One of the most renowned programs at Mercy is its gynecologic oncology program, which specializes in complex gynecologic surgery, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer and uterine cancer.
The gynecologic oncology program was implemented by Dr. Neil Rosenshein, who “has devoted his medical career to advancing surgical techniques to treat female tract cancers,” according to Mercy’s website. Patients travel across the nation to be treated by Rosenshein because of his experience and operating-room expertise and his efforts to involve a patient’s loved ones in the recovery process.
“[Care] is not just treating the disease, it is supporting the individual and their family on the quest to return to good health,” said Rosenshein. “We have been very fortunate with great leadership to expand the programs and give people the opportunity to receive treatment here. The Sisters of Mercy espoused a strong component of spirituality to the healing process, and I think that is something that our institution really provides in the community: A spiritual, positive approach to their illness really helps a patient.”
The personal investment staff has in their patients is a large part of what sets Mercy apart from other institutions.
“I think our center stands out because of our global approach to illness, to help not only the patient, but also their family and those around them,” Rosenshein said. “It is critical to the success of the outcome to involve the family. That’s a part of the whole process; it is necessary for them to be informed and educated about the illness to play their roles in a full and healthy recovery.”
This same approach of personal investment in patients and accessibility for their families is mirrored in another of the Weinberg Center’s crowning programs, the Hoffberger Breast Center at Mercy. Dr. Neil Friedman, Hoffberger director, expressed a similar outlook on the importance of engaging with patients.
“If you come to the institution,” he said, adding that he is told this by patients every day, “almost everyone you meet, from housekeeping to nurses to physicians, are so friendly and warm. I think that any time you are coming into a hospital, you are scared; you are coming in because something is wrong. The fact that everyone is so friendly and supportive makes it a very conducive environment for a patient to do well.”
Equally important, however, are Mercy’s cutting-edge technical advancements. For example, Mercy was one of the first centers in the country to offer DIEP flap reconstruction, a type of breast reconstructive surgery using tissue from the abdomen, and it remains one of the leading hospitals in terms of volume and expertise with the procedure.
Mercy was also the second institution in the state to buy equipment for 3-D mammography, now standard of care in breast imaging, and the first institution to perform intra-operative radiotherapy (IORT), a single dose radiation treatment for breast cancer.
“I think it is a combination of physician expertise with technological innovation in a warm compassionate environment,” said Friedman regarding what makes Mercy’s women’s center stand out. “I know that those are buzzwords, that every hospital says ‘we have that and we have that,’ but I have lived it out here at Mercy for the last 20 years.”