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At JHCP, the Accent Is on “Community”
Volunteer service gets personal at Johns Hopkins Community Physicians

Barbara Cook, left, and “change bandit” Danielle Maguire of JHCP/White Marsh, collect coins for the JH Children’s Center.
Some anxious families with loved ones serving in Iraq are sleeping a little easier, thanks to JHCP/Frederick’s “Operation Pillowcase.” In a joint program with neighboring Fort Dietrich Army Community Service Division, JHCP employees donate two pillowcases per military family. The Army then arranges to take a photo of the family, screens it onto a pillowcase and sends it to the soldier. Meanwhile, a picture of the soldier is taken, screened onto the other pillowcase, and sent back to the family.

JHCP/Frederick administrator Jeanne Murry and her staff poured their hearts into the pillowcase project. “The military really hits home for us and many of our patients,” she says. Murry’s son and five other employees’ family members are serving in Iraq. Last December, the group sent soldiers hundreds of Christmas cards and more than 25 care packages.

The Frederick program exemplifies JHCP’s renewed emphasis on reaching out to the communities that surround its 15 offices across the state. JHCP President Barbara Cook contends that personal connections like those at Frederick fuel stronger bonds with the community more naturally. She wants each office to choose projects that interest them the most.

It was just last year that Cook announced a goal of making community action projects a priority. Since then, she has been overwhelmed by the response. “The list keeps growing, as does employee creativity.”

In White Marsh, several staff members coordinated a bowling event to raise money for Juvenile Diabetes. About 60 employees and friends turned out and raised more than $300. At JHCP/Howard County, medical records clerk Shawn Day, who volunteers regularly for a battered women’s shelter, enlisted support from her co-workers. They responded generously, donating toiletries and clothing. And in Rockville, family practitioner Ayesha Jafri and pediatrician Janet Siddiqui volunteer at the Muslim Community Center’s Free Clinic in Silver Spring. In each case, a personal tie was the impetus.

Army wife Patricia Robinson, third from left, with a pillowcase presented by JHCP/Frederick employees, from left, Jessica Craigie, Holly Harris and Leanne Ridenour, far right. JHCP is joining forces with neighboring Fort Dietrich in “Operation Pillowcase,” benefiting soldiers in Iraq.

That’s not to say established community service projects are any less worthy. Indeed, Cook feels a responsibility to support preexisting neighborhood causes as much as possible. “Gone are the days when doctors and their staff made it their business to serve on community boards and integrate with the community they serve,” laments Cook. Large group practices, transient patients and increasing demands, she says, threaten community involvement. But with a little nudging, Cook believes Hopkins can bring back some old-fashioned outreach to neighboring residents.

On Boston Street, for example, JHCP/Tindeco employees found a way to help local schools deal with budget cuts. Calling the project “Believe in Schools,” several colleagues painted and decorated General Wolfe Elementary. Similarly, East Baltimore’s JHCP branch supports “sister school” Johnston Square Elementary with annual art and essay contests and school supply donations. Practice administrator Dan Bitzel sits on the school’s improvement committee. Bitzel’s group also reaches out to elderly neighbors, with monthly presentations on health topics like diabetes, nutrition and Medicare prescription programs.

With the word community in its very name, says Cook, JHCP has to take outreach seriously. “Health care workers need a special gift to be in this field. People are ill, vulnerable, worried. A measure of our greatness is our compassion at a time of need.”

—Judy Minkove



Johns Hopkins Medicine

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