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Bon Secours, Mercy Health Announce Intent to Merge

Marriottsville-based Bon Secours Health System, a Catholic health ministry serving residents across the east coast; and Mercy Health, a Catholic health ministry serving Ohio and Kentucky, announced their intent to merge and create one of the largest health systems in the country, spanning seven states in the eastern half of the U.S.

“The mission, vision, values and geographic service areas of Bon Secours and Mercy Health are remarkably well-aligned and highly complementary,” said Richard Statuto, president and CEO of Bon Secours Health System. “This merger strengthens our shared commitment to improve population health, eliminate health disparities, build strength to address social determinants of health and invest heavily in innovating our approaches to health care.”

Together, Mercy Health and Bon Secours rank in the top performing quartile of Catholic health systems for low-cost, high-quality patient care, promoting healthier lives and creating more affordable health care. The merger allows the new entity to leverage economies of scale by integrating resources and teams. The merged entity can claim the following.

• One of the top 20 health systems in the nation and the fifth largest Catholic health system, with $8 billion in net operating revenue and $293 million in operating income
• 57,000 associates and more than 2,100 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians
• More than 10 million patient encounters across seven states, with 43 hospitals and more than 1,000 care sites
• Robust post-acute care services with more than 50 home health agencies, hospice agencies, and skilled nursing and assisted living facilities

While there is no specific date outlined, executives at both ministries expect to complete the merger by the end of the calendar year.

Live! Casino to Offer Maryland’s First Outdoor Gaming,
Smoking Patio

Live! Casino & Hotel has announced the new Orchid Gaming & Smoking Patio, which will feature table games and slots. Scheduled to open in mid-April, the patio is also the first in the state to offer Ticket In/Ticket Out (TITO) tables, enabling players to move between slots and table games without carrying chips to the main cage.

“Orchid is the latest in the evolution of Live! Casino & Hotel, as we continually strive to create an environment that is engaging and welcoming for our guests,” said Rob Norton, president of the facility. “With Orchid, we are offering them visually stunning space to enjoy an extensive collection of cigars and spirits, while seamlessly moving between their favorite table games and slots.”

Orchid will feature 12 live action table games, including Blackjack, Baccarat and Roulette; plus, 28 electronic table positions, including “Dealer-Assist” Blackjack, Baccarat, Craps and Roulette, and bar-top terminals. More than 150 of the latest slot machines, including video poker, will be available in denominations ranging from $.01 to $10.

The gaming zones are interspersed among features representing the four elements: earth, air, fire and water. Orchid’s bar will feature lounge seating and an extensive collection of spirits, including barrel-aged cocktails; specially-built humidors will house premium cigars curated by Orchid’s cigar specialists. For more information, visit www.marylandlivecasino.com.

Lorien at Home Expands Into Howard County, Adds Outreach Service

Lorien at Home, the in-home services division of Lorien Health Services, is expanding in size and scope with the addition of Howard County operations, as well as a new outreach service for people on the mend.

The expansion will give Howard County residents access to Lorien at Home’s menu of in-home services, including Living Lorien, a monthly plan that offers comprehensive and continuous monitoring with telehealth services, 24/7 RN Care Management and consultations with a care coach; or, with Lorien Select, clients can pick and choose from a long list of services, including nursing services, assistance with bathing, transportation or light housekeeping, intermittent consultations with a care coach, and monthly wellness and safety assessments.

In addition to the geographic expansion, Lorien at Home has taken on a new role within Lorien Health Services, a family-run business founded in 1977 that operates 10 assisted living and skilled nursing facilities throughout Maryland.

The expansion into Howard County represents a homecoming of sorts for Lorien at Home. Although it shares its parent company’s headquarters in Ellicott City, it has offered in-home services in Baltimore County since 2014. It expanded into Harford County last year.

Renovations on the Dossier at Westfield Annapolis Mall

Westfield Annapolis has begun a modernization and revitalization program, with construction now underway on an all-new, food hall-inspired Dining Court slated to open this summer. Westfield has integrated into a number of its retail destinations the bistro-style court, which will incorporate an additional 200 lounge-style seats amidst white pendant lighting, cage fixtures, custom-made rope lights and ceiling sculptures, along with stainless steel and glass fixtures.

In addition to a new, contemporary Family Lounge, recent upgrades at the mall include the makeover of the property’s Bow Tie Cinemas, which now feature reserved luxury recliner seating, an elevated hot food menu that can be delivered to the customer’s seat, and a state-of-the-art large format BTX screen with Dolby Atmos sound. A full bar is scheduled to be added for 2018, adding to the next-level movie-going experience.

All the eateries currently operating in the space, including Chick-fil-A, Charley’s Philly Steaks, Five Guys, Mezeh Mediterranean Grill and Panda Express, will remain open for business during construction.

The enhancements reflect a vision for a revitalized “city center” where food, fashion, multi-faceted social activities and a range of health and wellness amenities are all available in one place.

MDOT Given Green Light to Go Solar at Its Facilities

The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) will run a number of its facilities throughout the state with solar power, at no additional cost to taxpayers.

The Board of Public Works, chaired by Gov. Larry Hogan, approved the plan at its Feb. 7 meeting. MDOT Secretary Pete Rahn said no capital funds will be expended to pay for the program, and solar panels could be installed at up to 35 MDOT sites within 18 months. The program, one of the first of its kind in the country by a state transportation agency, is projected to generate 298 construction and 28 operations and maintenance jobs, with more positions added as solar power expands to other MDOT sites.

Through the bidding process, MDOT selected six master contractors who will compete to provide renewable solar energy for MDOT’s headquarters and the facilities of its business units: the State Highway Administration, the Maryland Transit Administration, the Motor Vehicle Administration, the Maryland Aviation Administration, the Maryland Port Administration and the Maryland Transportation Authority.

MDOT owns or controls more than 874 facilities, including buildings, parking garages and parking lots that could be studied for solar installation; but not all structures will qualify. MDOT will lease land to the developer, which will construct, own, operate and maintain the renewable energy infrastructure. The initial contract for construction of the solar facilities is five years, with a two-year renewal option.

Once the solar systems are in place, MDOT will buy the power at a fixed rate for 20–25 years. For the project to be approved, the rate must be less than what MDOT would pay to the utility. MDOT expects its utility payments to drop from an average of 10 to 11 cents per kilowatt hour to 6 to 8 cents per kilowatt hour, a potential savings of 30–40%.

 

Kittleman Updates Farming Community on Agriculture Initiatives

A new restaurant certification initiative and a high school agricultural science program were announced at County Executive Allan Kittleman’s annual roundtable with farm and business owners. Kittleman discussed these and other ongoing agriculture initiatives with more than 40 farmers and business owners at the roundtable, which was held at the Howard County Fairgrounds.

Kittleman started the event to open dialogue about initiatives to support the health and vitality of farming in the county. “We’ve discussed ways to improve relationships with nearby residents and how to make farming more profitable. Some of the suggestions have led directly to efforts like our Farm Academy and the Agriculture Subcabinet,” said Kittleman.

James Zoller, the county’s agriculture coordinator, announced a new program to be launched in March called “We are HoCo Fresh,” which will certify county restaurants that purchase specific amounts of produce, protein and other products from local farms. Restaurants meeting the goals will be able to display and advertise the certification.

In addition, Kathy Johnson, agricultural development manager with the Howard County Economic Development Authority, announced a new agriculture science curriculum to be offered to high school juniors and seniors at the county’s Applications and Research Laboratory beginning in the fall. It will be part of the school system’s honors program.

Advarra, TransPerfect Form Strategic Language Services Partnership

TransPerfect Life Sciences, a provider of technologies and services to support clinical trials and product development for the biopharmaceutical industry, has been selected as the official language services provider for Columbia-based Advarra.

Advarra is a provider of institutional review board (IRB), institutional biosafety committee (IBC) and global research compliance services. Formed by the merger of Chesapeake IRB and Schulman IRB, Advarra is able to leverage the combined strengths of the organizations to serve the increasingly complex needs associated with research.

The new agreement names TransPerfect as the strategic supplier of language services, including document translation, digital content localization and interpretation services. TransPerfect had existing relationships with both Chesapeake and Schulman entities pre-merger that included language services, as well as its Trial Interactive e-clinical and eTMF technology.

“Throughout our partner selection process, TransPerfect was clearly the best choice and stood apart from the crowd in all areas,” said Jeff Wendel, president of Advarra. “Their proven ability to deliver high-quality work on aggressive timelines, as shown through their long-standing relationships with both Chesapeake IRB and Schulman IRB, will help Advarra immensely going forward as we are able to speed turnaround times and complete more reviews.”

BGE Plan to Pass Federal Tax Reduction Savings to Customers Accepted by PSC

The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) has accepted BGE’s proposal to provide approximately $103 million in annual tax savings to customers, which was instituted Feb. 1.

“This is a positive outcome for BGE customers, and we are appreciative of the Public Service Commission’s decision to accept our proposal to convert tax savings to reduced rates,” said Calvin Butler, Jr., CEO of BGE. “We are pleased to have another opportunity to further reduce the average BGE residential customers’ total bills, which remain below levels from a decade ago.”

The average BGE residential electric customer will receive an estimated $2.91 decrease on his or her monthly bill, and the average residential combined natural gas and electric customer will receive an estimated $5.41 monthly reduction. Commercial customers also will receive monthly bill reductions. Reduced rates for all BGE customers will be reflected beginning with customers’ February 2018 bills.

While customer bills have decreased, BGE has continued to invest in energy infrastructure. The investments have resulted in record system reliability, accelerated modernization of the natural gas system through the STRIDE program, increased security and significant customer satisfaction improvements. BGE voluntarily filed the proposal to reduce rates as a result of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Another Record Year of Cargo at the Port of Baltimore

2017 was a record year of business for the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore’s state-owned public marine terminals. Last year, the port handled more containers and autos than any time in its history.
The port also set a new record by handling 10.7 million tons of general cargo from its public marine terminals, the second consecutive year for more than 10 million tons of general cargo. General cargo includes autos and light trucks, containers, roll on/roll off (farm, mining and construction equipment), forest products (rolled paper and wood pulp) and breakbulk cargo.

Recently, the port added six new Rubber-Tired Gantry (RTG) yard cranes, which are used to lift and place containers onto trucks, to help with its booming container growth. The cranes were purchased by Ports America Chesapeake, which operates the Port’s Seagirt container terminal for the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration. The six new RTG cranes are in addition to the 16 already in service.
Business at the Port of Baltimore generates about 13,650 direct jobs, while about 127,600 jobs in Maryland are linked to port activities. It is responsible for nearly $3 billion in personal wages and salary and more than $300 million in state and local tax revenues.

The Joint Chiropractic Offers Baltimore the Relief It Needs

The Joint Chiropractic has announced a nationwide franchise growth plan targeting markets across Maryland, including Baltimore.

With its “no appointment, no insurance and no hassle” business model, The Joint is reinventing the chiropractic sector, making health care affordable for patients seeking pain relief and ongoing wellness. By welcoming walk-ins and strategically placing locations near high-traffic shopping centers, grocery stores and retail areas, consumers have easier access to the clinics and can visit a licensed chiropractor without disrupting their daily lives. The Joint’s unique membership model allows patients to customize ongoing treatment plans or take part in preventative care on a weekly basis.

From its inception in 1999, the chiropractic franchise now has more than 400 clinics open or in development across the United States. Franchise and corporate locations are earning double-digit percentage annual revenue growth, with a 17% increase from 2015–16 and similar projections for 2016–17.

With no cost of goods, a limited number of employees per location and the ability to operate in small spaces (often less than 1,000 square feet), the business model provides strong unit economics with recurring revenues and scalability that attracts entrepreneurs from all professional backgrounds, regardless of chiropractic experience. The Joint’s investment opportunity starts at $211,400, which includes the initial franchise fee.