Welcome From The Health Commissioner
Thursday Jan 15th, 2015
Welcome to the new Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) blog!
I am delighted to start the B’healthy in B’more blog as I begin my first day at BCHD—the oldest public health department in the country. With the leadership and support of our Mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, our 1,100 employees work innovatively and extremely hard every day to serve the public and improve health.
I’d like to open my first blog entry here by explaining who I am and where I come from. Though I’m new to Baltimore, the issues facing our residents are not new to me. My parents and I immigrated from China when I was eight. I grew up in inner-city Los Angeles, including Compton and East L.A. My classmates were victims and perpetrators of gun violence; our friends and neighbors suffered from drug and alcohol addiction; and I saw what happens when people did not have access to healthcare and died from treatable problems related to poverty and disparities.
Those experiences motivated me to become a physician. I wanted to be an emergency physician because I never wanted to turn any patient away. But it’s from working in the ER that I saw the limitations of medical interventions. We can resuscitate teenagers who are shot and stabbed, revive victims of drug overdoses, and treat complications from diabetes and heart disease. These are important life-saving measures, but they also demonstrate why we also need upstream interventions like safe schools, violence prevention, and preventive health.
This is what led me to become an emergency physician, community organizer, and public health professor. My passion is to tackle unjust health disparities; my goal is to change the unfortunate reality that geography is often destiny.
I am incredibly honored and feel very fortunate to work for a visionary leader who so clearly understands how health ties into all social policies. Mayor Rawlings-Blake has proven that she deeply cares about the health of our city. She is someone who takes bold steps at reform by addressing big problems with big solutions. This will not be easy, but we in Baltimore do not take a back seat to public health. We have many committed partners in the community who will fight together for healthcare equity.
We are starting this blog to highlight the work that BCHD and our community partners are doing to improve health for Baltimore. Every week, we will post a blog by our team and by guest contributors from around the city. We’d love to hear from you! Please subscribe to the blog, follow BCHD on Twitter and Facebook and send us your stories.
I’d like to end this first post by taking this opportunity to thank you for allowing me to serve with you. Working at BCHD is my dream job—the chance of a lifetime to serve those most in need, to fight health disparities, and to improve health and well-being in our communities. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with all of you, and look forward to engaging with you over social media and to meeting you in person.