By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor
Baltimore’s $170 million State of Maryland Public Health Laboratory is finally open. Governor Martin O’Malley, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and many other federal, state and local officials were present on July 22, at the Science + Technology Park at Johns Hopkins in East Baltimore, to cut the ceremonial ribbon for the new state-of-the-art facility.
With 234,000 square feet of space, the Public Health Laboratory will enhance the state’s ability to identify and respond to current and emerging public health threats. It will be home to 212 laboratory employees and its six levels will house five scientific lab divisions: Environmental Chemistry, Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Newborn and Childhood Screening, and Virology/Immunology. The employees will relocate to the new building later this year, from the 40-year old, outdated facility at Baltimore’s State Center. They will conduct more than 10 million tests at the new location each year.
The new facility is LEED Silver certified. It was constructed by Turner Construction Company, Cain Contracting and Essex Construction, and was designed by HDR Inc. The project included minority-owned firms and other locally owned business, exceeding the goals set before the start of construction. According to a statement from the Governor’s office, 1,183 jobs were created during construction and about 11 percent of them were local community hires.
The Maryland Economic Development Corporation, a company created by the General Assembly to assist state and local jurisdictions in fostering and supporting economic development projects, helped finance the $170 million Public Health Laboratory. Other partners on the project included Forest City—New East Baltimore Partnership, East Baltimore Development, Inc., the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of General Services.
“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,” Governor Martin O’Malley said in a press statement. “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.”
Photo credits: Department of Health and Mental Hygiene