Charles D. Fla­gle

Johns Hop­kins Bloomberg School pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus re­called as a gifted re­searcher, sto­ry­teller and men­tor

Baltimore Sun - - OBITUARIES - By Jac­ques Kelly jac­ques.kelly@balt­sun.com

Charles D. Fla­gle, a Johns Hop­kins Bloomberg School of Pub­lic Health pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus, died of pneu­mo­nia Sun­day at Blake­hurst Re­tire­ment Com­mu­nity in Tow­son. The for­mer Rux­ton res­i­dent was 97. “Dr. Fla­gle was among the founders of the field of health ser­vices re­search,” said Karen Kruse Thomas, his­to­rian of the Bloomberg School. “He pi­o­neered ap­ply­ing math­e­mat­i­cal and man­age­rial ap­proaches to stream­line large-scale health sys­tems, in­clud­ing com­put­er­i­za­tion and pro­gres­sive pa­tient care.

“His re­forms at Johns Hop­kins Hos­pi­tal to group pa­tients by their need for in­ten­sive, medium or semi-in­de­pen­dent lev­els of care were adopted by hos­pi­tals to in­crease their ad­mis­sions and im­prove the qual­ity of care,” she said. “The Amer­i­can health sys­tem owes him a great debt of thanks.”

Born in Scottdale, Pa., and raised in Bal­ti­more’s Waverly com­mu­nity on Ven­able Av­enue, he was the son of Charles D. Fla­gle, who sold gym­na­sium seat­ing, and Marie Den­hard.

He was a1936 grad­u­ate of City Col­lege.

As a young man he played the trom­bone in a dance band. He and friends formed a ship’s orches­tra and sailed to Rot­ter­dam in the sum­mer of 1939. They re­turned to Bal­ti­more on the same ves­sel when World War II broke out in Europe.

In 1940, he be­came a de­sign and de­vel­op­ment en­gi­neer for the West­ing­house Elec­tric Corp. in Philadel­phia. He worked on jet en­gine con­trols for the Army af­ter earn­ing a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in en­gi­neer­ing from the Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity.

He later earned a master’s de­gree and a doc­tor­ate in en­gi­neer­ing, also from Johns Hop­kins.

In 1950, he be­gan work­ing as a re­search as­so­ci­ate at the In­sti­tute for Co­op­er­a­tive Re­search, a unit that worked at Johns Hop­kins in con­junc­tion with the Army.

He joined the School of En­gi­neer­ing fac­ulty in 1954 and com­pleted his doc­tor­ate of en­gi­neer­ing in 1955. He was named a pro­fes­sor in 1962.

The Bloomberg School of Pub­lic Health re­cruited Dr. Fla­gle in 1963 to set up a re­search sec­tion in its De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health Ad­min­is­tra­tion. Col­leagues said he taught the school’s first health ser­vices re­search cour­ses and trained stu­dents in the tools of health plan­ning and re­search.

Dr. Fla­gle served as a spe­cial as­sis­tant to the U.S. sur­geon gen­eral for ap­plied health tech­nol­ogy from 1967 to 1968. He worked to im­ple­ment elec­tronic med­i­cal records sys- tems.

In 1978, he was elected to the In­sti­tute of Medicine of the Na­tional Academy of Sci­ences.

Ellen J. MacKen­zie, a Johns Hop­kins pub­lic health pro­fes­sor and chair of the de­part­ment of health pol­icy and man­age­ment, called Dr. Fa­gle a “pioneer in the field of health ser­vices.”

“What I will re­mem­ber most about him was his in­cred­i­ble wit and good hu­mor,” she said. “He was a great sto­ry­teller and very much a Re­nais­sance man. He also cared deeply for the stu­dents and was, him­self, a great teacher and men­tor. He will be sorely missed by many.”

“My fa­ther was known for bring­ing the field of oper­a­tions re­search and the use of tech­nol­ogy to the fore­front of pub­lic health,” said his son, Dou­glas A. Fla­gle of Tow­son. “His fo­cus was the role that com­put­ers, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and in­for­ma­tion sci­ences play in health ser­vices de­liv­ery.”

His son also said Dr. Fla­gle helped de­velop the field of med­i­cal sys­tems re­search: “When­hebe­gan, it was a field that didn’t ex­ist.”

Dur­ing his ca­reer, Dr. Fla­gle’s work ad­vanced the ap­pli­ca­tion of re­search in ar­eas such as dis­ease screen­ing, di­ag­no­sis and ther­apy, as well as hos­pi­tal re­sources al­lo­ca­tion.

In 1984 he was named a pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus at Johns Hop­kins.

The Johns Hop­kins Alumni As­so­ci­a­tion awarded Dr. Fla­gle its Dis­tin­guished Alum­nus Award in 2000.

Be­fore his re­tire­ment, he was a vis­it­ing scholar at the Na­tional Li­brary of Medicine, where he cre­ated a clas­si­fi­ca­tion sys­tem for health ser­vices re­search.

“My fa­ther was a busy guy. He would of­ten come home late, and he trav­eled the globe as a part of the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion,” said his son.

Dr. Fla­gle painted fam­ily por­traits. A love of mu­sic re­mained with him through­out his life. He was a pa­tron of the Bal­ti­more Sym­phony Orches­tra and the Bal­ti­more Opera.

A me­mo­rial ser­vice will be held at 3 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Epis­co­pal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St., where he sang in the choir.

In ad­di­tion to his son, sur­vivors in­clude his daugh­ter, Ju­dith E. An­der­son of Se­quim, Wash.; a step­daugh­ter, El­iz­a­beth D. Stephens of Scars­dale, N.Y.; nine grand­chil­dren; and two great-grand­daugh­ters. An­other son, C. Lawrence Fla­gle, died in 2015.

Dr. Fa­gle’s wife of 41 years, Janet Wa­ters Dry­den, died in 2006. Lois Haga­man, his wife of 16 years, died in 1963. Charles Fla­gle was among the founders in health ser­vices re­search.

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