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GBMC Brings Primary Care to Baltimore City, with Helping Up Mission

June 17, 2019
Since 2010, GBMC has been at the forefront of comprehensive primary care in the region, transforming our healthcare delivery system and revolutionizing the patient care experience with an Advanced Primary Care Model utilized in 10 primary care sites throughout Baltimore and Harford Counties.

Now, we are taking our model to Baltimore City.

In partnership with Helping Up Mission (HUM) – a nonprofit located in historic Jonestown whose mission is to provide comprehensive recovery services for men fighting addiction, poverty and homelessness in Greater Baltimore – GBMC will deliver advanced primary care services to 500 of their clients with high acuity healthcare needs and more than 1,500 alumni who are encouraged to maintain their recovery and remain accountable through the HUM Alumni Program.

With increasing volumes, HUM needed a partner that would be able to care for their growing number of clients. GBMC at Helping Up Mission will ensure clients receive the comprehensive, patient-centered care they deserve. Most clients who come to HUM have not had adequate healthcare for many years. Many clients have lived on the streets for long periods of time and most have not had any consistency in healthcare. Therefore, HUM clients often have numerous health-related issues that need to be addressed.

The project is novel in that it maximizes HUM’s existing collaborations with other healthcare providers, who, along with GBMC, are coming together to build on each other’s strengths. This collaboration will help to reduce the immense costs of potentially avoidable utilization of regional emergency departments and hospital inpatient services for substance use disorders (SUD) and chronic conditions. GBMC will work with HUM and other partners to keep participants on track for sustained health and wellness, even as they move back into the general community.

Once fully operational, the facility also has the potential to have a transformative impact in the community by strengthening access to and delivery of primary care for not only current HUM clients and the women and children who will be served in the new HUM facility slated to open in 2021, but also residents of the surrounding Jonestown community.

The partnership is even more opportune for GBMC because it brings the organization back, quite literally, to our roots. The site of GBMC at Helping Up Mission once housed the Presbyterian Eye, Ear & Throat Charity Hospital, one of GBMC's founding institutions.

Although the Jonestown neighborhood has improved since the early 1960s, there is still a great need for expanded primary care services in the larger community. With no substantive health center nearby to serve their needs, residents in the area experience higher rates of socioeconomic hardship compared to the city average in terms of median household income, rates of unemployment and family poverty.

GBMC’s Advanced Primary Care Model is tailored to address these needs directly by focusing on preventable disease and reducing mortality at the population health level through our team-based approach to care that coordinates and connects patients to services, and removes barriers to optimal health and wellness.

We will adapt our model to suit the needs of the HUM clients by providing access to on-call providers, available 24 hours a day including nights and weekends. Like our other GBMC primary care offices, GBMC at Helping Up Mission will also offer extended hours a few nights a week, and feature an onsite lab and onsite point of care testing. HUM clients will be able to receive their care in any of the other GBMC practices, so they will have access to services late into the evening, weekends and at various locations throughout the region. HUM has worked out a transportation plan when visits to these alternate sites are needed.

One hundred percent of HUM program participants are diagnosed with substance use disorder. HUM participants have spent an average of 18 years in addiction and are suffering from the heavy toll their addictions are having on their health. The primary substance of choice for most participants is heroin (39%), alcohol (24%) or cocaine (22%); and their average age of first substance use is 15 years old. Clients are generally reluctant to see a doctor because of their history and the stigma associated with SUD, which is why it's important clients receive culturally-sensitive primary care to keep them on the path to recovery.

GBMC’s Advanced Primary Care Model creates a deliberate focus on care coordination, preventive healthcare and population health. The approach utilizes team-based care, continuity of care and evidence-based medicine to help patients achieve and maintain better health, with tactics in place to reduce avoidable hospital admissions and unnecessary emergency department use, eliminate gaps in care for routine screenings, and improve quality outcomes for patients with chronic conditions and substance use disorders. We have demonstrated success working with patient populations who have chronic and behavioral health conditions.

GBMC’s model of care is the best in the market and the right mechanism to appropriately address this community's complex care needs. Working with HUM and community partners, the impact of this partnership will deliver the highest-quality continuum of care to ensure current, former and future HUM clients, as well as other East Baltimore residents, will be well-served by this partnership for many years to come.

If you are interested in learning more about the partnership with Helping Up Mission or how you can help, please contact Director of Philanthropic Engagement, Kate Thorne, at 443-849-2794 or
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