by Dale McArdle
On July 22, as part of Catholic Charities leadership LEAD Speaker series, about 50 Catholic Charities colleagues gathered at the Loyola Graduate School in Timonium to hear Dr. Sam Ross, the CEO of Bon Secours Hospital. Dr. Ross spoke about his responsibilities, including the management of the Bon Secours Hospital, as well as oversight of a variety of community outreach efforts, including affordable housing for seniors and families, job readiness, GED programs, and community green initiatives.
Speaking about his journey to Baltimore, he talked about being a young man growing up in Texas. He dreamed of becoming a family physician who returned to his hometown, finding success as well as a sense of purpose. Like his role model on a 70’s television show, he would become “the black Marcus Welby.” Dr. Ross did realize his dream of becoming a family physician in private practice, but he soon realized that he had a much different calling, one that would take him to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, as Chief Medical Officer, before becoming CEO of Bon Secours Hospital in West Baltimore.
He described the decision to come to Baltimore as a difficult one. Dr. Ross explained that he had never lived outside the state of Texas. Leaving his parents and grown children behind was hard, but he was drawn to the mission of the Sisters of Bon Secours which emphasizes caring for patients needs with quality and compassion.
Dr. Ross was impressed by the impact, beyond health care, that Bon Secours has on the surrounding community. He likened the hospital’s community outreach effort as consistent with the concept of Community-Oriented Primary care promoted by Dr. Sidney Kark of South Africa. Dr. Kark built facilities to address the social determinants affecting the poor, as Bon Secours hospital has done in West Baltimore.
He spoke about listening to people in the community talk about the importance of “getting rid of rats and trash” in their community. Bon Secours hospital responded to the community by helping them eliminate houses that could not be redeveloped and using the lots for community gardens. Dr. Ross affirmed that the effort by Bon Secours to reach out to the community is an extension of the Sisters’ mission of healing, compassion and liberation.
Dr. Ross was both eloquent and passionate about his work. Yet, he spoke directly to the hearts of the audience in an unassuming and humble manner. All of those in attendance could feel that this was the same way he speaks to everyone, regardless of their position or status. Dr. Ross is a grounded, yet charismatic and transformational leader, and another example of a committed, talented, inspiring executive serving the Baltimore community.