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Spotlight on Dr. Harold J. Tucker: A life spent caring for others

October 17, 2016
Greater Baltimore Medical Center’s new employed physicians group president brings vision, experience and good humor to one of the region’s preeminent healthcare systems.

Before taking the helm of the physicians group owned by GBMC, Harold J. Tucker, M.D., served as chief of staff and had an impressive medical resume, a dedicated job history at GBMC as both a private physician and group doctor, and the respect of colleagues.

“Hal is wise, funny, even-tempered and knowledgeable,” says Melissa Sparrow, M.D., GBMC’s new chief of staff. “He is very comfortable in a leadership position. Professionally, he brings the mindset of a private-practicing physician, an independent doctor. He has been at GBMC a long time and knows the intricacies of systems and relationships.”

Looking back, Dr. Tucker seemed forever on a path to lead local physicians.

Born in Baltimore, by 1969 he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maryland, returning to the campus at 22 S. Greene Street immediately after to earn a medical degree from his alma mater.

Dr. Tucker interned and completed his residency at the University of Maryland Hospital, a teaching hospital founded in 1823.He later served as a fellow of gastroenterology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and got his start as a physician in Baltimore at what was then Francis Scott Key Medical Center, now Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Dr. Tucker joined GBMC in the early 1980s. He has since served in a number of key roles, including vice chief of staff, chief of staff and chairman of GBMC’s Credentials Committee.

Over the years, however, one thing has been a constant: Dr. Tucker has never lost the passion for his job as a gastroenterologist.

“I’m a specialist in dealing with a variety of diseases that affect the digestive system,” Dr. Tucker says. “Stomach problems, intestinal problems, liver problems … So it’s a little bit of surgery, a little bit of counseling with patients and a little bit of pharmaceutical therapy, so you do everything. It’s quite varied, which keeps it very interesting.”

He spoke about a patient with a severe liver disorder and how not long ago, the damage would have led to a pained and depressing outcome. “But now we have newer medications that we are able to use effectively, and we turned his life around,” says Dr. Tucker. Seeing a patient fully rebound never gets old, he adds.

Dr. Tucker brings the same level of passion and fervor to his new post as president of Greater Baltimore Medical Associates, the large and diverse group of primary care and specialty physician practices owned by GBMC.

Already, he has a three-pronged plan.

First, he will work to rename the group and set up a formal governance body with bylaws and new polices.

Next, he will shift his focus to the culture of the physicians group.

“While our physicians are employed by the hospital, they also have to continue to work under the notion of being employed but still functioning as though they are independent,” Dr. Tucker says. “That is a big cultural change for the doctors, and we have to work to develop that.”

Finally, he wants to position the group as “the face of the GBMC HealthCare system.”

“It will take some time,” he says, “but we are a high quality, well-respected and well-liked group of doctors who will help build the GBMC brand.”

At home, Dr. Tucker is happy to go by a different title: Husband to his wife, Roberta, a pathologist. The couple married 10 days before Dr. Tucker began medical school 47 years ago. Now, they are parents of three grown sons and have four grandchildren.

Life is good for this Baltimore native son, who remains on top of his game and proves a life spent caring for others, building community and being a good colleague is a life well spent.

- Daniel Vasquez for Greater Baltimore Medical Center
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