Over the past several years, thousands of Baltimore citizens have benefited from the work of the University of Maryland Medical System's Community Benefits Committee, under the leadership of Senior Vice President Donna Jacobs. This group harnesses the talents of people from several UMMS hospitals to organize health events throughout the year -- bringing medical professionals into the community to provide free medical screenings, one-on-one interaction with physicians, information on prevention and wellness and fun family events.
Here are examples from 2010 that demonstrate the committee's outreach into the community:
Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day: September 29
Hundreds of people received free medial screenings at this annual event, which is a part of national campaign encouraging people to take charge of their own health and to encourage their loved ones to do the same. UMMS takes the concept in a different direction by bringing the doctors to the patients, hosting a health fair in the middle of a downtown park, easily accessible by public transportation.
The message is about prevention and letting people know that going to the doctor, working out and eating right are necessary tools for a longer, happier, healthier life.
At the event, visitors received free tests for blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol and blood sugar. An on-site ultrasound was available for vascular screening. University of Maryland urologists provided free prostate screenings inside the UM Medical Center, just across the street. Mobile health vans offered free immunizations, including flu shots, HIV testing and interactive fitness activities.
A man undergoing prostate screenings at the event commented, "I love the professionalism and concern and friendly atmosphere of the staff, nurses and doctors that are at the test site. Keep up the great work!"
Spring Into Good Health: April 6
By bringing screenings to Mondawmin Mall, this annual UMMS event reaches many people who may not otherwise take the time for these health tests.
"This event offers people in our community a wonderful opportunity to get a basic assessment of their health and learn about preventing health problems," says committee member and family medicine physician Yvette Rooks, M.D. "With conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, early detection allows you to take action to reverse the disease or prevent it from getting worse. But you need to be screened to know if you are at risk."
One woman told us that she's been to many health fairs all across the country and that the UMMS event was the best one she ever attended.
From the Heart: February 28
From the Heart was an afternoon at Reginald Lewis Museum focused on fun and heart-health education for the entire family. Along with heart-related health screenings, there were fitness displays and seminars on wellness.
Local chef Jimmy Britton of Class Act Catering held cooking demonstrations -- preparing heart-healthy foods that were easy to make and delicious. Jimmy even some got kids involved, bringing them on-stage to help him.
More Information on the UMMS group:
The UMMS Community Benefits Committee has also taken its programs to local churches and schools. The group frequently partners with other local organizations and agencies such as Coppin State University's School of Nursing and the Baltimore City Health Department.
The committee, comprised of about a dozen members, brings together individuals from different backgrounds and expertise, ranging from social work and human resources to marketing and medicine. This year the committee is also working on a women's health conference.
University of Maryland Medical System Hospitals represented on the committee: