MD Health Enterprise Zones Seek to Reduce Costs

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , March 6, 2013

Gregory Kearns, director of strategic management at Bon Secours, is also the interim project director for the collaborative.

"The collaborative is 16 organizations that came together back in 2010 with the understanding that we are all operating in this community but the community still is having some of the worst health outcomes in the area," Kearns explained in an interview.

"We really needed to assess the primary care capacity. We looked at this from a different level, not just from a healthcare level, but also what are the barriers to care, whether it is transportation or the ability to afford the medication, or to deal with housing modifications you might need."

The health challenges facing the residents of West Baltimore could be applicable in hundreds of socio-economically depressed communities across the nation.

"There is a lot of poverty and much shorter life expectancy, with significant levels of chronic disease, whether it is cardiovascular diseases, asthma, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, etc.," Kearns says.

"We have seen a large reliance on emergency rooms to meet primary care needs with a large percentage of the care in the ER being for illnesses or services that otherwise would be better seen in a primary care setting. A lot of the reason there is there is a lack of healthcare providers in the community, which we are looking to fix with our health enterprise zone application to add and attract new providers into the community."

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