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Forging Connections for the Greater Good

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Forging Connections for the Greater Good

Forging Connections for the Greater Good

Kathleen Littleton and Panagis Galiatsatos answer questions about sports injuries during a visit to Poe Homes.

Date: 01/20/2017

Panagis Galiatsatos roams the cavernous community room of Poe Homes, a public housing complex in West Baltimore. A couple of months ago, he was here with advice about heart health. Now, he’s explaining how to treat sprains and concussions.

His audience, again, is about 25 children and teens, the drummers and dancers of the Christian Warriors Marching Band. Again, they sit on folding chairs arranged in a circle around Galiatsatos, a pulmonary and critical care fellow in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

“Do you remember me?” he asks. 

“Yeeesss,” comes the drawn-out chorus of a reply.

“Do you remember my name?”

“Nooooo.”

Galiatsatos chuckles, tells his young audience to call him Dr. G. He knows his name is hard to remember. He also knows he’s forming relationships. Maybe some of the young people here will remember his advice for treating a sprain. Or maybe they’ll remember, the next time they visit a doctor, that this doctor made them smile.

That connection is the reason Galiatsatos helped found and still directs Medicine for the Greater Good (MGG), which began in 2011 as a series of workshops that encouraged trainees and experts to discuss nonclinical topics, like health policy, behavioral counseling and social determinants of health. In 2013, it expanded to include a requirement that all internal medicine residents at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center complete at least one project that benefits the community. Many do more.

 

The program also attracts undergraduate and graduate students from across Johns Hopkins, even though they are not required to participate. Together, 82 trainees and students have launched, led and learned in nearly 300 programs. They bring asthma education to local schools, operate blood pressure cuffs at health fairs, and challenge churchgoers to eat more fruits and vegetables. They attend palliative care workshops and push policy changes to benefit lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“More than 50 percent of what we do when we’re taking care of patients is not strictly medical,” says Ariel Green, assistant professor of medicine, who started the workshop series when she was an internal medicine resident. “It’s confronting other issues, like poverty. That’s why it’s important for doctors to get beyond the walls of the hospital.”