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DHMH Press Releases : Governor O’Malley Cuts Ribbon for New State of Maryland Public Health Lab

Governor O’Malley Cuts Ribbon for

New State of Maryland Public Health Lab

Baltimore, MD (July 22, 2014)  -- Governor Martin O’Malley and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, along with federal, State and local officials cut the ceremonial ribbon today for the new State of Maryland Public Health Laboratory (PHL). They were joined by project partners from the Maryland Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO), Forest City – New East Baltimore Partnership,  ​East Baltimore Development, Inc. (EBDI)and the Maryland Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) and General Services (DGS). Located at the Science + Technology Park at Johns Hopkins in East Baltimore, the new state-of-the-art facility enhances Maryland’s ability to identify and respond to current and emerging public health threats. Its proximity to the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health also offers the opportunity for collaboration and innovation.

"The Public Health Lab is the backbone of Maryland’s healthcare system and serves as an early warning system to protect the health and well-being of Maryland families,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “We’re harnessing the power of technology to strengthen our ability to respond more effectively and efficiently to contain a wide range of public health emergencies from disease outbreaks to natural disasters and bioterrorism.”

The new 234,000 square foot DHMH Public Health Lab replaces the 40-year old, outdated facility at State Center in Baltimore. It has six levels and will contain five scientific lab divisions: Environmental Chemistry, Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Newborn and Childhood Screening, and Virology/Immunology. The PHL protects public health through surveillance and tracking of diseases, toxic contamination of food and water, as well as environmental hazards in water, soil and air. More than 10 million tests are conducted annually by the PHL.

“Today we cement our commitment to public health – and our commitment to a more vibrant East Baltimore," said Congressman Elijah E. Cummings. "I’m proud of the progress that’s been made with the outstanding partnership between EBDI, the State of Maryland, and the broader community – and I look forward to what’s next for this part of our city.”

"This state of the art facility will improve public health throughout Maryland and keep us at the economic and scientific forefront of health technology," said Congressman John Sarbanes. "I commend all those involved for  making this ambitious vision into a reality."

The $170 million project was financed through MEDCO, a company created by the General Assembly to assist State and local jurisdictions in fostering and supporting economic development projects. The development of the Public Health Lab in East Baltimore will help anchor the Science + Technology Park at Johns Hopkins and will spur the growth of jobs and education in the health care and technology sector.

“Equipped with cutting edge technology and flexible space, the new lab allows us to expand our commitment to public health and gives us the capability to incorporate new technology to meet Maryland’s future needs,” said DHMH Secretary Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein. “We’ll also have the opportunity to further strengthen our core capabilities and enhance our overall preparedness by collaborating with our neighbors at Johns Hopkins.”

 DGS procured the services of MEDCO to finance, develop and own the facility as part of an effort to reduce dependence on the State's capital program to acquire major assets like the Lab.  Under the leadership of DGS, along with DHMH, EBDI, MEDCO and Forest City-New East Baltimore Partnership, an economic inclusion plan was created in partnership with the community. The inclusion plan set goals for utilization of minority-owned firms and local community hiring. The project has exceeded those goals, with more than 32 percent minority business participation (27% goal) and 30 percent locally-owned business participation (20% goal). The project has generated nearly 1,200 (1,183 actual) construction jobs of which about 11 percent were local community hires.

“This project delivers on so many fronts, from helping drive the economic transformation and community revitalization of  East Baltimore to ensuring Maryland has a state-of-the-art public health lab,” said DGS Secretary Alvin C. Collins.

The redevelopment of East Baltimore was named a Smart, Green and Growing (SGG) Initiative by Governor O’Malley who launched the SGG initiative in 2009. The PHL meets Silver Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification requirements, including direct natural light in all interior laboratories. Employees have easy access to transit, retail, restaurants and residential housing.

The State made an initial investment of $6.45 million to launch the project in 2010.  Approximately 212 laboratory employees will relocate from the existing PHL to the new facility later this year when it’s expected to be fully operational. 

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