The Johns Hopkins
Health Institute has established a free clinic in East
Baltimore to offer health services to people without health
insurance. An estimated 25,000 area residents currently
lack any form of health insurance.
Called the Caroline Street Clinic for the Uninsured,
the clinic — whose official opening will be
celebrated on Tuesday, Nov. 9 — offers basic primary
care, screening, chronic disease management, health
education, HIV testing and counseling services for both
adults and children. For instance, people with diabetes
will be offered free blood glucose/sugar testing,
medications with instructions on how to use them and
lifestyle training on the importance of eating a healthy
diet and increasing exercise.
"Johns Hopkins is uniquely positioned to provide this
kind of free service to the community, given the large pool
of health professionals and considerable goodwill from its
staff toward local residents in need of better health
care," said Miriam Alexander, assistant professor and
director of the general preventive medicine residency
program in the School of
Public Health. "We fully expect to have an impact on
the health status of residents in East Baltimore, finding
people with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes,
elevated cholesterol levels and high blood pressure," she
said. "All of these require proper medical attention that
we know is not otherwise available to them.
"Many residents who lack insurance are often left to
seek primary care in the emergency room," she continued.
"The purpose of this clinic is to catch things early on and
to prevent conditions from reaching the stage for the
uninsured where there is real need for emergency care."
The clinic's hours of operation are now 6 to 10 p.m.
on Tuesdays and are expected to increase in 2005 to include
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Located at 620 N. Caroline
St., the clinic is situated in Baltimore City Health
Department's Eastern District Building, readily accessible
by bus, with nearby street parking also available. The
clinic does accept drop-ins, but making appointments ahead
of time is strongly encouraged and can be done by calling
Run as a pilot program during the summer, the clinic
currently serves more than 20 patients per week.
All services will be offered free of charge. There
will be no bills to residents cared for on-site, nor is
there a sliding fee schedule; instead, residents who come
in for treatment will be screened for lack of insurance.
The clinic will be staffed entirely by Johns Hopkins
volunteers. More than 30 have already signed on, including
physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, medical and
nursing students and administrative managers.
A two-year unrestricted grant from Pfizer will help
support the clinic's operations. All remaining services,
including lab testing, will be provided by Johns
Made up of predominantly minority groups of blacks and
Hispanics, the population of East Baltimore is most beset
by the health problems that afflict the region, including
high rates for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS,
teenage pregnancy, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. In
2002, the last year for which national statistics are
available, Baltimore had the third highest incidence (new
cases per year) for chlamydia (at 6,267 cases, behind
Detroit and Richmond, Va.) and gonorrhea (at 4,873 cases,
behind St. Louis and Richmond, Va.)
"Our long-term goal is to expand the clinic and add
more services for people with diabetes and asthma,
including more specialized staff, such as a nutritionist,
social worker and respiratory therapist," said Earl Fox,
director of the Urban Health Institute. "We expect the
clinic to grow. The fact that there is a demand for us and
other free clinics like us demonstrates, again, the need
for universal health insurance."