ACP Maryland Chapter Volunteerism Committee
Member Volunteer Profile
January 20, 2011
Dr. Belinda Chen
Volunteer Activity/Web site:
New Song Urban Ministries is a church-based community development effort located amidst a 72 square block area called Sandtown-Winchester in West Baltimore. New Songís Family Health Center has its origins in a free walk-in health clinic once located 20 years ago in the churchís basement staffed solely by volunteers organized by Dr. David Thomas and a nurse practitioner, Linda Swallow. In 1995 there was an opportunity to expand the clinic's services through a Robert Wood Johnson Planning/Implementation Grant under the Reach Out Initiative. In partnership with Mercy Medical Center, a full-service primary care clinic was organized. In 2005, Peoplesí Community Health Center assumed responsibility for providing primary health care services at the 1300 N. Fulton Avenue location. As a Federally Qualified Heath Center, the practice now offers family practice, gynecology, and behavioral health services.
Dr. Belinda Chen has played an instrumental role in the evolution of the New Song Family Health Center since she began volunteering there in 1994. After completing her medical residency at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Chen moved to Baltimore to assume a full-time position at Johns Hopkins Community Physicians. She simultaneously made a one-year commitment to help organize the New Song Family Health Center because of a long-standing commitment to working with vulnerable populations. Little did she know her love for the New Song community would be a major factor for remaining in Baltimore and lead eventually to a decision to reduce her full-time position at JHCP so that she could spend 60% of her time at New Song.
Although there is now better access to traditional health services in Sandtown, many community members need help learning to navigate a complex healthcare system. Dr. Chenís attention is focused on patient advocacy and education, so she has created a Health Co-operative for patients. Membership in the Co-op provides an individualized health and wellness assessment as well as access to health professionals she has assembled to provide specialty medical advice. Volunteers include physicians, nutrition and PT, mid-level providers, and health professions students. They assist individuals one-on-one with whatever is needed for them to move one step closer to better health, including, but not limited to: obtaining medications, screening for chronic medical conditions, providing nutrition consultations, explaining health insurance plans, and educating patients in self-care or in how to communicate with their physicians. After so many years, Dr. Chen still relishes the opportunities to freely share from what she has been given. She readily asserts that she has received so much more than she has been given.
If you are interested in learning how to share your medical knowledge in a way that helps you to stay in touch with the roots of caring in medicine, feel free to contact Dr. Chen and she will be happy to help you discover how to shine your light in your corner of the world.
Page updated: 01/20/11