Barbara Cook, medical director of The Access Partnership (TAP), a Hopkins program that helps uninsured and underinsured patients receive specialty health care at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and former president of Johns Hopkins Community Physicians, received the Dr. Sebastian Russo Award, which recognizes health care providers who have made significant contributions to their fields by providing dedicated and compassionate service to low-income individuals and families. Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will presented Cook the award on Wednesday, Sept. 1 at 9 a.m. in City Hall, Mayor’s Suite, 2nd floor.
The Dr. Sebastian Russo Award was created by the Baltimore City Health Department in 2007 to recognize healthcare providers who have made significant contributions to their fields by providing dedicated and compassionate service to low-income individuals and families.
This award honors Dr. Sebastian Russo, a Baltimore City family physician known for tireless and devoted service to his patients. Over his long career, Dr. Russo exemplified a commitment to reducing barriers to health care access. Before his tragic death in 1981, he was embraced by his community, who recognized the value of a physician who made house calls, learned multiple languages to communicate more effectively with patients, and charged only when patients were truly able to pay.
The nomination submitted by Hopkins at the time Cook was president of JHCP stated:
Few people have dedicated their lives to helping the less fortunate to the degree that Dr. Cook has. First, as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Panama City, where she taught family planning and organized a sewing cooperative for the local women, then as a community organizer for the National Farmworker Ministry in St. Louis, Missouri, and later, as a physician in rural West Virginia, to her current position as President of Johns Hopkins Community Physicians (JHCP). As JHCP president, Dr. Cook and her team led the transformation of the East Baltimore Medical Center (EBMC), giving East Baltimore residents a medical “home.” And, as the Hispanic population in Baltimore grew, Dr. Cook led the center’s efforts to reach out to this often neglected community. She established the first Hispanic Clinic at EBMC to provide much-needed medical services for Hispanics and volunteers at the clinic herself on a regular basis, where her fluency in Spanish is put to good use. EBMC has successfully recruited a fulltime bilingual physician and staff so that health care services are available to this community on a daily basis. As Dr. Cook says, “It makes so much more sense to proactively manage health than to wait until crises occur. Renal failure, strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, premature infants born to moms with no prenatal care, these are all serious health conditions we can help prevent at the clinic.”
Despite all her professional obligations, Dr. Cook still finds time to volunteer for the United Way, where she has been a member of the organization’s DeTocqueville Society and serves on the board of Maryland Outward Bound. She is also active at Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church where she sings in the choir and serves on the Stewardship Committee.
She is a rare individual whose altruism and compassion are every bit the equal of her professional accomplishments.