GE gives grants to two community health centers

Two Baltimore-area community health centers are sharing in a grant of $500,000 from the GE Foundation, the philanthropic arm of General Electric Co.

The People's Community Health Centers Inc. in Baltimore will be able to hire a nutritionist and put more resources into its educational programs.

Chase Brexton Health Services Inc. will strengthen programs that treat both a patient's medical and behavioral needs. For example, a person with diabetes can get medication, but will now also be taught how to eat more nutritious foods and can get psychological counseling if needed as well.

The grants are part of $25 million the foundation is giving out as a way to help improve primary care in underserved communities throughout the country.

Baltimore was chosen both because of the need for health care for the needy and because GE has a large presence in the area. The company is also offering up its employees as volunteers as part of the grant package.

GE has about 900 workers at its Middle River Aircraft Systems plant in Baltimore and more than 200 at GE Healthcare Maternal-Infant Care, a Laurel operation that makes incubators, warmers and other products used in labor and delivery.

"We want to help contribute to the impact these health centers are having on the community," said Carrie Eglinton Manner, general manager at GE Healthcare Maternal-Infant Care.

The community groups can use the money as they choose, as long as they meet certain GE guidelines.

Chase Brexton has been creating programs that use a more holistic approach to treating patients and said the money will help it expand on that. The organization, with four clinics throughout the state, hopes to use the volunteers to help with marketing, development efforts and with an educational dental program it has in the Howard County Public Schools.

"I see this as more than just grant money but an acknowledgement of the work we can continue to do in a city that still has a long way to go in providing health services," said Dave Shippee, CEO at Chase Brexton.

The People's Community Health Center, which serves 53,000 patients a year, will hire a nutritionist and use the money to expand educational programs. They hope to use the volunteers to help with operations. They also hope they'll be able to increase the number of patients served.

"This is an unprecedented opportunity and a great gift," said Lelin Chao, chief medical officer of The People's Community Health Centers.

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