In Baltimore, an Urban Hospital Reaches Out to its Neighbors

By: - March 10, 2017 12:00 am

Johns Hopkins University and its hospital and health system have hired more than 300 residents of Baltimore’s distressed neighborhoods in the wake of the Freddie Gray riots in 2015.

© The Associated Press

Following through on a pledge to address the economic and racial disparities that have long bedeviled Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University and the Hopkins hospital and health system hired more than 300 workers from the city’s impoverished neighborhoods last year, according to an update this week on the efforts.

Hopkins officials said they also committed .5 million in construction funds to minority-owned, female-owned or disadvantaged firms in 2016, and increased spending with Baltimore-area businesses by nearly million.

Spurred in part by provisions of the Affordable Care Act, a number of hospitals around the country have undertaken efforts to improve the quality of life in nearby distressed communities. Some of those activities are narrowly focused on medical care, while others seek to address unemployment, food security, and a lack of green space, under the theory that improvements in those areas can help improve the health of people living nearby.

The Hopkins initiative was announced in the wake of riots in the city in April 2015 following the death of Freddie Gray, a young African-American man, from injuries sustained while in police custody. The university and health system announced a number of hiring and spending goals intended to promote local business and attack the high rates of unemployment that afflict many neighborhoods in the shadow of the health system.

“We are encouraged by the measurable progress we’ve made to harness Johns Hopkins’ economic activity to promote growth and employment in Baltimore,” Ronald Daniels, president of the university, said when he released the progress report.

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Michael Ollove

Michael Ollove covers health care for Stateline. Ollove worked for many years at The Baltimore Sun, as an enterprise reporter and an editor.