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A New Hospice Center to Care for the City’s Most Vulnerable

September 11, 2018
Gilchrist Center Baltimore's vision is bold: caring for the most underprivileged and underserved patients at the end of life, ensuring they have access to safe, compassionate care, regardless of background or ability to pay. And that mission on Eutaw Street has helped countless individuals die with dignity. But after 30 years operating out of several 130-year-old deteriorating rowhouses that aren't up to code, it's time for a change.

Gilchrist Center Baltimore recently launched a $10 million fundraising campaign to relocate operations and construct a new state-of-the art inpatient hospice facility at the former site of Memorial Stadium, so it can remain a vital resource for terminally-ill Baltimore City residents.

When completed, the new Gilchrist Center Baltimore will be a 24,000-square-foot building on two levels, situated on 1.5 acres at Stadium Place. The second floor of the building will house 22 private patient rooms, each with a private bathroom, storage and space for guests. Four of the patient rooms will be dedicated to pediatric care.

Gilchrist Center Baltimore, new front entry rendering
Rendering of the new Gilchrist Center Baltimore building
Gilchrist provides a much-needed service to the Baltimore City population. Those aged 65 and older comprise approximately 12.1% of the total population, and the Maryland Health Care Commission projects an increase in city residents needing hospice. This population also tends to be those most in need.

Seventy percent of the center’s current patients live below the median family income for Baltimore City and often struggle with addiction and behavioral health issues, are homeless or live with HIV. Without Gilchrist, some of the patients would die in emergency rooms or on the street.

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's 2016 Primary Care Needs Assessment, ranked Baltimore City last in the state on indicators such as preventable hospitalizations, access to care and other social determinants of health, making it the jurisdiction with the greatest need for healthcare resources. In addition, Baltimore City also had the highest incidence in Maryland of HIV, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes with long-term complications, hypertension and heart failure, as well as the lowest average life expectancy at 73.9 years.

Without Gilchrist Center Baltimore, these patients would have nowhere to go when facing serious illness at the end of life. Long-term care facilities often will not accept this population because of their inability to pay room and board. With the exception of Gilchrist Center Baltimore, that leaves hospitals as the only other viable option. So, in addition to caring for the city's most vulnerable population, Gilchrist saves the state an estimated $6.7 million per year by providing care in a hospice facility rather than in hospitals.

The new building is also an investment in the city through the hiring of local companies to complete construction as well as maintaining an annual operating expense of about $2.8 million to employ 38 full-time staff and cover building maintenance, medical supplies, prescription drugs and other operating expenses. The benefit to the city is substantial, continuing a tradition started more than 30 years ago when the facility began as the Joseph Richey House.

When Gilchrist joined forces with Joseph Richey House in November 2014, that commitment to city residents remained at the forefront. Gilchrist Center Baltimore continues to provide comprehensive hospice care around the clock, addressing treatment goals, but also quality-of-life needs in patients' last days.

Some patients who have been addicted or homeless require an added level of psycho-social care. Many have been medically underserved and have a distrust of the medical system. Family members are often overwhelmed by the idea of hospice and do not fully understand the care that will be provided. Many patients have estranged relationships with other family members. Gilchrist Center Baltimore works closely with each patient to ensure unresolved issues are being addressed, bringing needed closure at the end of life.

Gilchrist Center Baltimore's new facility is a beacon of hope and solace for Baltimore City residents, and an added investment and benefit to its communities. Its new beginning means for years to come, the terminally ill in Baltimore – many of whom have been medically and socially underserved – will spend their final days in a beautiful setting where they will be cared for compassionately and respectfully.

If you are interested in learning more about Gilchrist Center Baltimore or supporting their campaign, please contact Director of Development, Ted Blankenship, at 443-849-8263 or tblankenship@gilchristcares.org.

Run to Support Gilchrist Center Baltimore

Want a way to see Baltimore City and help its residents at the same time? Consider participating in the Baltimore Running Festival with GBMC. Our supporters fundraise for Gilchrist Center Baltimore when participating in any of the four events – marathon, half marathon, relay team or 5K – which means whatever your activity level, there is a way for you to help patients in need.

Running for Gilchrist Center Baltimore
Running for Gilchrist Center Baltimore
Gilchrist Center Baltimore serves about 200 terminally-ill individuals each year, most of whom are at-risk and medically underserved Baltimore City residents. As Gilchrist Center Baltimore is the only hospice facility in Baltimore City, it fills a significant need and generally has a waiting list of eligible patients. Since most of our patients are uninsured/underinsured, Gilchrist Center Baltimore incurs about $1.2 million annually in uncompensated care costs.

Because of generous donors, and events like the Baltimore Running Festival Run for a Cause, the team at Gilchrist Center Baltimore is able to treat the patients like they are their own family.

For more information on team RUN GBMC, please contact Morgan Cook in the GBMC Philanthropy Department at 443-849-2120 or mcook@gbmc.org. We'd love to have you and it's just a great cause!

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