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January 24, 2006

Baltimore Fights For Sight

Baltimore Businesses Join Together in an Innovative Community Coalition Targeting Diabetic Eye Disease in Hispanics

Business owners in Baltimore are keeping an eye on more than just the bottom line these days. In an effort to fight diabetes-related eye disease in the city, twelve business owners have come together to provide educational activities for Hispanics who may be at risk of losing their sight.

The innovative ProVisión Amigos partnership will be introduced at an event on January 26 to recognize those businesses that are giving back to the Hispanic community. Each ProVisión Amigo will donate space and time to educate its clients on the importance of annual eye exams for persons with diabetes. The event will also feature local community health organizations helping spread the word on accessible screening and treatment for Hispanics with diabetes who live in the greater Baltimore area. ProVisión is an eye health campaign financed by the National Eye Institute to promote the importance of healthy sight and annual eye exams.

“Community outreach through ProVisión Amigos is the key to reaching as many Hispanics as possible in Baltimore. Talking with members of the community in the places where they shop, eat and carry out their business transactions strengthens the message of caring for your vision,” said Sheila West, PhD, professor of ophthalmology and Principal Investigator of the ProVisión project.

ProVisión includes the Hispanic Apostolate, the Wilmer Eye Institute and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Communication Programs (CCP). The Amigos initiative includes: Service General, Save-a-lot Supermarket, La Guadalupana Tienda y Restaurante, The Markets at Highlandtown: Great Valu, Cinco de Mayo Taquería, Tienda y Carnicería, Tortilleria Sinaloa, Tienda Value Express, Inc. “Las Primas,” Genesis Grocery Store, Restaurante Chicken Rico, Highland Laundry & Cleaner, State Farm Insurance and Restaurante El Salvador. Together these businesses are working with their clients to provide better information on eye health and generate more eye care visits among Hispanics with diabetes.

The Hispanic Apostolate is a program of Catholic Charities, the region's leading provider of human services. The 41-year old program welcomes and provides social services and legal support to Hispanic persons and other immigrants in the Baltimore area. The Apostolate’s bilingual staff offers assistance with employment, English proficiency, immigration legal services and access to health care.

The Wilmer Eye Institute is known throughout the world for research and for management of exceptionally complex and serious eye cases. It provides compassionate and technically excellent care for patients with eye care needs at all levels. Wilmer was ranked the country's number-one eye department in the U.S. News & World Report physician survey last year.

With representatives in more than 30 countries, CCP partners with organizations worldwide to design and implement strategic communication programs that influence political dialogue, collective action and individual behavior change; enhance access to information and the exchange of knowledge to improve health and health care; and conduct research to guide program design, evaluate impact and advance knowledge and practice in health communication.

Public Affairs media contacts for the Center for Communication Programs at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Kim Martin at 410-659-6140 or kmartin@jhuccp.org.