One of the engines of the unrest that rocked Baltimore earlier this year was the economic despair and high unemployment in some Baltimore neighborhoods. In Sandtown-Winchester, Freddie Gray’s neighborhood, the unemployment rate is double that of the city as a whole–and the city itself already has an unemployment rate much higher than the national average.
A new initiative spurred by Baltimore-area hospitals is hoping to change some of these alarming statistics by hiring 1,000 entry-level workers for hospital jobs, the Baltimore Sun reports.
“We are collectively the largest private sector employer and we thought we could really make a push to stand up a meaningful number of jobs,” Johns Hopkins Hospital President Ronald R. Peterson said today. The University of Maryland Medical System and MedStar Health (which operates Union Memorial and Good Samaritan) have also signed on to the plan.
The jobs would average around $13-15 per hour, and would involve things like counseling addicts, transporting patients, and advising people about health insurance.
There are still a few hurdles the plan needs to pass through before becoming a reality, but it seems as though all the power players in Baltimore are on board. In a city with extremely high poverty rates and extremely good hospitals, this move seems like a no-brainer to me–and to some hospital administrators, too. “I’ll be the first to tell you there is a lot of pressure to control our costs,” Peterson told the Sun. “But this is an investment well worth making. We’re at a virtual transition point. If we don’t exhibit the right behaviors, take tangible steps to demonstrate to people we are willing to give them a chance, give them an opportunity for hope, there could be a downward spiral no one wants.”
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