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Former city health commissioner heads Baltimore healthcare organization

Ursula V. Battle | 1/17/2014, 6 a.m.
Peter Beilenson, CEO, Evergreen Healthcare Courtesy Photo

— When Baltimoreans hear the name “Dr. Peter Beilenson,” what comes to mind for many is his former role as the city’s health commissioner. That’s understandable given the fact that Beilenson served as commissioner from 1992 until 2005. However, now Beilenson wants his name to evoke his latest endeavor, Evergreen Health Care.

Beilenson is the founder and CEO of Evergreen Health Care, which provides its members with access to a new network of health centers where they can get primary care through an innovative, team-based, patient-centered model.

Evergreen Health Care consists of two components— Evergreen Health Co-Op and Your Health Network. Evergreen Health Co-Op is a pioneering nonprofit health care organization based in Baltimore that offers a neighborhood-based health care system featuring four health centers, located in Baltimore, White Marsh, Columbia, and Greenbelt. The Baltimore location is located at The Rotunda. Each center offers a staff, which includes doctors, nurse practitioners, social workers, and case managers.

The second component is Your Health Network, an affiliated 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization of Evergreen Health Co-op that administers the Evergreen Health Care product.

According to Beilenson, the founding of Evergreen was prompted by the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010— the national health care reform law known as the “ACA” or “Obamacare.”

“Myself, and other reform-minded health and medical experts saw this as an opportunity to bring Marylanders a new model of health care at a low cost,” said Beilenson. “We feel it’s healthcare reform done right.”

According to Beilenson, the name Evergreen was born out of talks about launching the company during meetings at Evergreen Cafe on Cold Spring Lane.

Beilenson, along with the company’s other organizers, founded Evergreen Health Co-op in September 2012. After two years of planning, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), awarded a competitive loan to Evergreen Health Cooperative Inc. to become the 22nd health co-op in the nation. Operations began in October 2012, and the company officially opened in January 2014n with a staff of 40 employees.

“We are open to everyone and work with all kinds of groups,” he said. “We work with a combination of Medicaid and commercially-insured. We were started by public health experts, but realized our experience was not enough. We brought in experts from the insurance industry. My experience helped, but we know we needed more than that, and brought in the additional experience we needed.”

Beilenson brings over 20 years of experience in public health leadership to Evergreen. Prior to founding Evergreen, he was the health officer for Howard County where he created Healthy Howard, an innovative health plan for the county’s previously uninsured residents. Prior to that, he served as Baltimore City’s health commissioner, and is credited with expanding drug treatment programs in Baltimore, improving immunization compliance, and a wide range of extremely effective lead poisoning prevention initiatives.

According to Beilenson, Evergreen Health offers a team approach, which focuses on its clients and is partly modeled after the Healthy Howard program. He also highlighted that Evergreen offers convenient, same day appointments, access to a network of specialists, and around-the-clock phone coverage.

“It has been very gratifying,” he said. “One of our clients is a man who said he hadn’t had insurance for 13 years. The fact that he now has coverage thanks to Evergreen Health is very gratifying.”

He added, “We want people to feel good and like their healthcare, which is why we wanted to offer healthcare that was cost-effective and neighborhood-based.”

For more information about Evergreen Health, call 443-839-0585 or visit www.evergreenmd.org.