In partnership with the East Baltimore community that surrounds it, Johns Hopkins Hospital has launched a new neighborhood initiative focusing on better medical care and avoidance of debilitating illness, such as cancer, HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases.
Hopkins is now asking the community what it wants and needs to combat its most pressing health problems instead of the institution setting up programs it thinks are most urgent.
"People in our neighborhood know what their most important health concerns are," Dr. Robert M. Heyssel, president and chief executive officer of the Johns Hopkins Health System and The Johns Hopkins Hospital, said yesterday in announcing the new initiative.
"We need to listen and learn from them and we need to make it easy and convenient for people to get involved and share information."
The emphasis will be on education, prevention and intervention "which are a lot less expensive than treatment later in the course of disease," he said.
Based on preliminary discussions by a 12-member advisory board, efforts are likely to focus on such areas as reducing infant mortality and sexually transmitted diseases, increasing vaccinations, slowing the spread of AIDS, improving primary care, providing low cost mammography, and promoting healthier lifestyles.
In January, the board is expected to choose three of these problems for initial concentration.
"We tend to look at Hopkins as being one of the greatest institutions in the world or the castle on the hill, but it's a bank of knowledge," said Lucille Gorham, who is director of Citizens for Fair Housing and has been involved in Hopkins' demonstration projects since 1968.
"We believe you can come to Hopkins and get an answer to your problem," she further said, "and we'll be very much involved to help them gather the information they need."
Lee Tawney, an assistant to Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, said, "We're here today renewing and revitalizing a 100-year old dream . . . a continuing partnership to make this institution work for this community."
That dream was envisioned by Johns Hopkins, a wealthy Baltimore merchant and banker, whose will provided for the establishment of the hospital, which opened in 1889, and the university, which opened four years later.
"We're not happy about our health in this community," said City Councilman Carl Stokes, D-2nd, who represents the East Baltimore area. "I'm on this board to see that the hospital hears the commitment of Johns Hopkins himself, who said the hospital should take care of the health needs of the community."
Gorham, Tawney, Stokes and Heyssel are members of the advisory board that also includes Rev. Marshall Prentice, president of Clergy United for the Renewal of East Baltimore (CURE); Ralph Moore, director, RAISE II, and Thomas P. Coyle, director, Office of Policy and Program Development, Baltimore City Health Department;
Also, Dr. Catherine DeAngelis, associate dean for academic affairs, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine; Dr. Bernard Guyer, chairman, Department of Maternal and Child Health, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, and Dr. Diane M. Becker, director, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Promotion.
Also, Vanessa Bradley, residency program coordinator, Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. An additional seat for a community representative is vacant.
Hopkins is using $150,000 of its own money to launch the initiative, which will operate out of a new Office of Community Health located in the 550 Building, across the street from the hospital's North Broadway entrance.
Terisa James has been named OCH's executive director. Dr. Frank Oski, chairman of the hospital's department of pediatrics, will serve as director of OCH, which will be a clearinghouse for all existing health care programs in East Baltimore and help groups seek financial support for needed projects.