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Hopkins to open specialty clinic for infectious diseases

Dr. Leana Wen. (File)

Dr. Leana Wen. (File)

Johns Hopkins Hospital will open a clinic specializing in infectious diseases and focusing on the east Baltimore community, officials announced.

The $24 million John G. Bartlett Specialty Practice for Patients with Infectious Diseases will open for patients Monday. The hospital expects to see 170 patients every day.

“The overall goal is to try to have a patient-centered practice that works well,” said David Thomas, director of Hopkins’ division of infectious diseases. “We do have a burden of HIV and hepatitis C that we will be addressing. We have a lot of people with other complications of living in east Baltimore.”

The facility took over space in the Park Building, where the emergency department used to be located.

Thomas said the Monument Street location should make it easily accessible for east Baltimore residents.

The clinic includes doctors, a nutritionist, a pharmacy, phlebotomy services, social workers and case managers.

Offering a full complement of services could be instrumental to treating infectious diseases, especially in communities like east Baltimore, said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen.

“Like other urban cities across the country, BC has a disproportionate share of infectious diseases,” she said. “Just like other diseases, these are diseases that are closely associated with other health disparities.”

The infectious disease clinic could also play a role in fighting the opioid crisis.

“There is also a close correlation between the opioid epidemic and diseases like HIV,” Wen said. “We encourage treatment but we also link people into treatment at the time they are tested. … These issues for us we see as going hand in hand.”

A large part of treating infectious diseases, especially the HIV and hepatitis prevalent in the city, is raising awareness.  One in six people in Baltimore with HIV don’t know they have the disease, Wen said.

“You cannot assume that someone is at high risk or low risk, and we should all be tested on a regular basis,” she said.

The clinic will be named after Dr. John Bartlett, a former head of infectious diseases at Hopkins, who Thomas recognized as a “giant” in the field of infectious diseases.

“His contributions were enormous,” Thomas said. “He set the standards for at least five different infectious diseases.”

Bartlett also spurred Hopkins and the city to start treatment for HIV in Baltimore in the 1980s when doing so was taboo.

“He was one of the champions who testified in exchange of needle exchange and helped (it) occur here in Baltimore City,” Wen said.

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