Funder: Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit

May 2013 |

Linda DunbarGrowing up alongside a sister with cerebral palsy, and having witnessed the successes and failures of the health care system to meet her family’s needs, Dr. Linda Dunbar knew from age six that she wanted to help individuals with complex health issues. Starting her career on the front lines as a pediatric nurse and rising through the ranks to become a hospital administrator and managed care plan executive, her focus today is on strengthening community partnerships and building robust systems to support Baltimore’s neediest populations.

Dr. Dunbar began her health care career as a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital in Baltimore. She remembers being “drawn to the patients and families with very complex, long-term needs-especially those arising from things like premature births and lung conditions,” and she has continued to work with this population throughout her clinical career. Appointed as the director of nursing and patient services at Mt. Washington in 1984, Dr. Dunbar oversaw services there for 13 years.

In 1997, Maryland began mandating enrollment in managed care for all Medicaid beneficiaries. Concerned that these plans could not adequately meet the needs of children with disabilities, Dr. Dunbar originally advocated that this population be excluded from mandatory enrollment. These efforts led Johns Hopkins to recruit her to join its own managed care plan, Priority Partners, and strengthen its capacity to serve children with special health care needs.


Profiles in Innovation are a product of the Center for Health Care Strategies’ Complex Care Innovation Lab, made possible by Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit, which is bringing together leading innovators working to improve care for vulnerable populations with complex medical and social needs. These profiles highlight Innovation Lab participants and examine their pioneering work.