The Baptist Ministers’ Night Conference of Baltimore & Vicinity has lauded the Johns Hopkins Health System for being one of Baltimore’s leading COVID-19 supportive organizations.
“Johns Hopkins Health System was selected because they have worked relentlessly to fight against COVID-19 and strived to keep Marylanders safe and healthy through ongoing support and communications with community partners, as well as all citizens of Maryland,” said Reverend Dr. Sandra Conner, Baptist Ministers’ Night Conference of Baltimore & Vicinity’s president.
The Baptist Ministers’ Night Conference of Baltimore & Vicinity is affiliated with more than 150 local faith organizations. The group works closely with the communities it serves, seeking opportunities to collaborate with others to eradicate social challenges in health care, homelessness, education, workforce development and public safety.
Kevin Sowers, M.S.N., R.N., president of the Johns Hopkins Health System and executive vice president of Johns Hopkins Medicine, accepted the award during the organization’s fourth annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast. The event was held virtually, on Monday, Jan. 18.
Sowers said successfully addressing the needs of the community during this unprecedented crisis required working together in new ways. As a member of the Baltimore Area COVID-19 Public-Private Taskforce leadership team, Sowers works alongside University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) President and CEO Mohan Suntha, M.D., and Brian Pieninck, president and CEO of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, to strategize the organizations’ combined resources in a unified response to the pandemic. The Taskforce facilitates communication between health systems/hospitals, city and state leadership and supports data-driven decision making.
The Baptist Ministers’ Night Conference of Baltimore & Vicinity recognized the Taskforce for coordinating care for people experiencing homelessness and organizing teams focused on long-term care facilities and detention centers. The group also sent representatives into homeless shelters and nursing care facilities to provide COVID-19 testing and consultation. Additionally, the Taskforce set up the Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital and designated the Lord Baltimore Hotel as a location to quarantine vulnerable populations during the pandemic.
The Baptist Ministers’ Night Conference of Baltimore & Vicinity said the Taskforce is addressing the disproportionate number of people of color impacted by the pandemic. Their congregations have used the Taskforce’s informational campaigns to amplify COVID-19 safety, accessed free COVID-19 testing and distributed free masks to members of their Latinx and African American communities. As vaccines become more available, the Taskforce is proactively reaching out to provide the necessary education and accurate scientific information to support the community in making informed decisions.
Community chaplain Rev. William Johnson, a member of the conference, said Johns Hopkins Health System sees the important role the faith community plays in overall community health.
“This is significant because of the historic issue of distrust between black and brown communities and Hopkins,” Johnson said. “A wall is being broken down, and it’s becoming more of a partnership. Johns Hopkins Health System’s approach in more recent years has been more listening to the community to help meet their needs, rather than telling the community what they need.”
Sowers thanked the organization for recognizing the health system’s commitment to making a positive difference in the community.
He quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”