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Johns Hopkins goes global, pursues 19 healthcare ventures across 5 continents

Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Medicine International aims to spread the health system's brand and mission across the globe through several initiatives, including a hospital in the Middle East, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Mounes Kalaawi, MD, chairman and CEO of Clemenceau Medical Center in Beirut, Lebanon, said officials sought to create a state-of-the-art hospital with upscale amenities and top quality medical care in the Middle East. To do so, officials began negotiating a strategic partnership with JHMI nearly 10 years ago, and opened the hospital in February 2006.

"They were the secret behind much of the success of this hospital," said Dr. Kalaawi. "The strategic partnership we created made this happen. Otherwise, this would be very different."

Clemenceau Medical Center is one of 19 projects in JHMI's growth portfolio. The various projects, which are aimed at improving healthcare and creating research opportunities overseas, span five continents.

However, JHMI has received pushback from some of its proposed projects abroad. Pamela D. Paulk, president of JHMI, said she's received numerous questions — some from her own family — about how the organization could operate in areas like Saudi Arabia, which some experts cite as among the most repressive countries in the world. Johns Hopkins maintains a partnership with Saudi Aramco, a government-owned oil company, to run a health system for an estimated 360,000 individuals, according to the report.

"It is important for us when we are going some place to make sure we can be helpful," Ms. Paulk said. "It is not important for us to be involved in politics. Our mission is to provide healthcare, education and research."

As a whole, JHMI's international efforts have benefited the institution as well as the local healthcare workforce in areas where Johns Hopkins has decided to pursue expansion and partnership efforts. Johns Hopkins residents completed part of their medical residency training at Clemenceau Medical Center for the first time in 2016. A Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon also traveled to the Beirut facility in June to help operate on a patient, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Ms. Paulk said JHMI will continue to look for various international opportunities as long as they don't affect the health system's ability to provide care. She noted possible expansion areas include Latin America or Southeast Asia.

"We are not just going to go into a place for a year or two and get out," said Ms. Paulk. "We really want to help build a health care system that could sustain itself beyond any Johns Hopkins involvement."

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