A 21st Century approach to health care in Prince George’s County, great advances in community engagement and support in West Baltimore, and a critical investment in innovation and revitalization for the entire state – all of these and more are the products of support by the Maryland General Assembly and Governor Hogan, said University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) President Jay A. Perman, MD, at a Feb. 11 legislative hearing in Annapolis.
Speaking in support of Governor Hogan’s FY ’17 budget for higher education, Perman reminded members of the Education and Economic Development Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee that UMB confers the majority of public health, law, and human services professional practice doctoral degrees awarded in Maryland. “We train the students who will soon serve as Maryland’s front-line practitioners,” he said. “So we must ensure that their education prepares them for the challenges of caring for Maryland’s people – especially those in underserved communities and those with chronic disease.”
That mission, Perman added, is what underpins a plan to establish an interprofessional health care model in Prince George’s County and Southern Maryland. “This is the optimal care model for chronic disease management – improving health outcomes while inhibiting cost growth,” he told the subcommittee.
Under the plan, UMB faculty, residents, and students will work with a coalition of eight hospitals in the region to provide comprehensive services to high-need patients who are transitioning out of in-hospital treatment.
The same interprofessional approach is being used to “more aggressively” improve health, employment, and education conditions in West Baltimore communities near UMB, Perman said. Last fall the university opened the UMB Community Engagement Center (CEC) on Poppleton Street, within the University of Maryland BioPark. The CEC is now home to weekly workforce training programs, legal clinics, community advocacy training, and health assessments and demonstrations, and serves as a safe zone for children and families to play together, and for neighbors to get to know one another better.
Perman reminded the delegates that UMB is also the lead agency in 12 community schools, providing support with academics, and health and social services, and was clearly pleased to share with them the university’s newest educational support program. The UMB CURE Scholars Program provides long-term mentoring and education for West Baltimore middle schoolers, and is designed to guide them throughout their school years into careers in the health sciences. The first class of 40 sixth-graders was inducted last fall. CURE Scholars receive tutoring on campus and conduct science experiments in UMB labs, all with the help of scores of faculty, staff, and student mentors.
The University also plays a critical role in the economic revitalization of West Baltimore, Perman said, and is finally able to implement a major addition to the BioPark with the help of state and city support. Late last year the Maryland Department of Commerce designated the BioPark a Regional Institution Strategic Enterprise (RISE) Zone, enabling UMB to successfully lure a nationally acclaimed high-tech business incubator. The Cambridge Innovation Center will be the anchor tenant in the new $110 million, 250,000 square foot Innovation Center on West Baltimore Street. The center will house more than 100 start-up companies and employ 900 people.
“Last spring, we all saw what decades of isolation and concentrated poverty can do to a city’s neighborhoods—to its people and families,” Perman told the delegates. “UMB has been in these communities for years, he said. “We can restore Baltimore to cultural vibrancy and economic power—and we will.”