About The Gazette Search Back Issues Contact Us    
The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University November 8, 2004 | Vol. 34 No. 11
Free Clinic to Expand Hopkins Services to Uninsured

JH Urban Health Institute opens East Baltimore facility for area residents

By David March
Johns Hopkins Medicine

The Johns Hopkins Urban 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 866-545-CARE (2273).

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 Hopkins.

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."


The Gazette | The Johns Hopkins University | Suite 540 | 901 S. Bond St. | Baltimore, MD 21231 | 443-287-9900 |