April marks the second anniversary of the social turmoil that followed the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man from West Baltimore, while in police custody.
Those events in the spring of 2015 prompted considerable soul-searching throughout the city. Efforts were begun to address the ongoing problems that exacerbated the grievances expressed by the residents of the city’s impoverished areas.
Let me update you on what I think is the impressive, imaginative—and effective—outreach that Johns Hopkins Medicine has undertaken since then, from creating business and employment initiatives, to forming innovative task forces, to strengthening and expanding our community involvement. We are energetically engaged in making a difference, of which all of Johns Hopkins Medicine can be proud.
Soon after the April 2015 civil disturbance, I had the opportunity to lead a coalition of Baltimore City hospitals to create a new hospital-based employment program, the Baltimore Population Health Workforce Collaborative, which addresses health issues that result from poverty while also providing job opportunities. It focuses on specific categories of workers, such as certified community health workers and certified nursing assistants, who are trained to serve the health care needs of their communities.
In September 2015, Johns Hopkins University President Ronald Daniels and I joined forces to launch HopkinsLocal, an initiative to promote economic growth in Baltimore by leveraging the purchasing power and employment clout of The Johns Hopkins University and the Johns Hopkins Health System.
We set goals to do more business with local enterprises, particularly minority- and women-owned businesses. We also established higher benchmarks for the inclusion of more minority-owned firms in construction projects on the Johns Hopkins campuses.
In April 2016, HopkinsLocal—which is making significant progress—led to an inspired spinoff: BLocal. With Johns Hopkins Medicine among them, 25 businesses pledged $69 million over a three-year period to hire local minority- and women-owned businesses for both construction projects and the purchase of goods and services.
As part of BLocal, an educational program called BUILD College was launched to support small, local, minority- and women-owned construction companies. After spending 13 weeks learning the best ways to expand their businesses and networking with fellow small entrepreneurs, industry experts and some of the largest organizations in the city, including Johns Hopkins Medicine, the first class of 15 graduated last September.
On another front, Paul Rothman, dean of the medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, and I convened six task forces in the summer of 2015 to meet with community members to discuss how Johns Hopkins Medicine could work with them for a stronger, more unified Baltimore.
The task forces, overseen by Landon King, executive vice dean for the school of medicine, included faculty members, staff members and students from across Johns Hopkins Medicine. They have developed five comprehensive recommendations.
These include a set of proposals for increasing Johns Hopkins Medicine’s external and internal outreach and communication with communities citywide. For example, we have established the Wellness Walks program, which has implemented regular walks that also facilitate interactions between Johns Hopkins Medicine leadership and the surrounding Baltimore community.
Another task force is focused on creating more jobs and work training programs. These include the new Johns Hopkins Medicine Supply Chain Institute, a free, two-month program offered in partnership with Baltimore City Community College to prepare city residents for careers in the supply chain industry.
Other task forces focus on establishing efforts to include “community” among the goals of the Johns Hopkins Medicine Strategic Plan, strengthening our partnerships with local schools and helping create an East Baltimore recreation center.
We can be proud of Johns Hopkins Medicine’s continuing dedication to improving the health and economic well-being of every Baltimore community.