West Baltimore CARE fights heart disease with line dancing


— West Baltimore CARE held West Baltimore’s Biggest Line Dancing Party as it commemorated the first anniversary of the launch of a community-wide effort to reduce cardiovascular disease. The party was part of the West Baltimore HEZ Year-in-Review, a program to share the successes and lessons learned from the West Baltimore Health Enterprise Zone (HEZ) Initiative. It took place Wednesday, March 12 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Coppin State University’s Talon Center.

In 2013, the West Baltimore Primary Care Access Collaborative (WBPCAC) was awarded a $5 million four-year grant from the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission to reduce heart disease in West Baltimore ZIP codes 21216, 21217, 21223, and 21229. This has been accomplished by improving access to and the quality of healthcare by hiring 23 health care providers and providing training to many others. They have deployed 11 Community Health Workers into the ZIP codes to partner with 172 community members to maximize their utilization of health and social services. Additionally, they have offered free fitness classes such as Zumba, yoga, and boot camp to more than 250 West Baltimore residents who now exercise regularly. This year, they will award community members health career scholarships for up to $8,000, allowing them to become a part of the healthcare teams that serve their neighbors in West Baltimore who have or are at risk for heart disease.

“We are pleased with the engagement of the community and our partners, but recognize there is still much work to be done,” said WBPCAC Chair and CEO of Bon Secours Hospital Baltimore, Dr. Samuel Ross. “This year, we will focus on measuring the impact of our work and refining programming to ensure we are meeting the needs of the community.”

Novella Tascoe, Interim Project Director added, “In Year One, we worked hard to show that being healthy doesn’t have to be hard. Line dancing is an example— it’s a fun activity that is great for your heart.”

In addition to line dancing, the Year-in-Review featured a presentation highlighting successes of the first year of implementation of the West Baltimore HEZ project, testimonials from community members and organizations that have benefitted from the project’s programs and services, and cooking demonstration. It was attended by community members and state and elected officials.

The West Baltimore Primary Care Access Collaborative members include: Baltimore Medical System, Bon Secours Baltimore Health System, Coppin State University, Equity Matters, Light Health and Wellness Comprehensive Services, Inc., Mosaic Community Services, National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence, Maryland, Park West Health System, Inc., People’s Community Health Centers, Saint Agnes Hospital, Senator Verna Jones-Rodwell, Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, Total Health Care, Inc., University of Maryland Medical Center, University of Maryland, Midtown Campus, and University of Maryland, Baltimore.