Note from the Commissioner: Stay Alert with Extreme Summer Heat

Yesterday, we declared the first Code Red extreme heat alert this summer in Baltimore City. To protect our residents from adverse health effects from extreme heat, the city enacted a multi-agency response to provide heat safety education and cooling relief to vulnerable populations in Baltimore.

Excessive high temperatures are a silent killer and a public health threat, particularly for the young, the elderly and those in our city who are the most vulnerable. It is important for all residents to protect against hyperthermia and dehydration by staying cool and hydrated as the heat continues throughout this summer. 

We can prevent heat from killing our citizens. In addition to caring for yourself and your family, remain in contact with your neighbors, especially seniors and individuals with chronic diseases who live alone or without air conditioning.

Residents should drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine; reduce outside activities and stay inside in air-conditioned locations; never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles; check on older, sick, or frail neighbors who may need help responding to the heat; and watch out for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which include: confusion, hot, dry, flushed skin or cool and clammy skin, lightheadedness, and nausea.

As we prepare for rain, keep other public health concerns in mind, such as Zika, the virus transmitted through the infected bite of a mosquito or through unprotected sexand is linked to birth defects. While the city has a plan to combat mosquito-borne illnesses, all residents in Baltimore can help prevent the spread of Zika by cleaning out yards and properties to prevent standing water in flowerpots, cracks in sidewalks, trashcan lids—anything as small as the lid of a bottle cap can hold enough water for Zika mosquitoes to breed. If you cannot remove standing water from your neighborhood, call 311 to report it.

Those in greatest danger from Zika are pregnant women because the virus can cause birth defects, including microcephaly and severe brain damage. It is crucial that pregnant women do not travel to areas with active Zika transmission ongoing (for the most up-to-date information, please visit the CDC’s website or the BCHD website). If they do travel, men and women should use protection during sex while abroad and for up to six months upon returning to the U.S.

Thank you for your hard work to improve health and well-being in Baltimore—and please stay cool and healthy!

Sincerely, 

Leana S. Wen, M.D., M.Sc.

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Note from the Commissioner: Protecting our Community’s Health

This week, I celebrated the Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month celebration as the keynote speaker for the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office. By invitation of Special Agent in Charge Gordon Johnson, I applauded the efforts of the FBI to embrace diversity and inclusion in their work. I discussed the shared core values driving the work of those of us on the frontlines of public health and public safety: Compassion, fairness, and respect for the dignity of all those we protect. And I had the opportunity conduct a naloxone training for agents and analysts and discuss how addiction is a disease for which we must all approach with urgency.

All sectors must be engaged to protect our community’s health and well-being. I was glad to provide the opening keynote for the United Way of Central Maryland’s Emerging Leaders United Young Professionals Conference. These young professionals are coming from backgrounds as diverse as finance, law, architecture, and accounting, but each of them are engaged in social justice and community service. Researchers and academics can be just as engaged. Last Thursday, I presented to doctors, nurses, and public health researchers as part of the Women’s Health, Sex, and Gender Research Symposium at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. There, I discussed the importance of academic researchers building relationships with the local communities in which they work. Everyone can make a difference in the communities we live and serve.

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Bmore Healthy Newsletter: May 18, 2018

Click here to read the 5/18/18 newsletter. Subscribe to the Bmore Healthy newsletter.

In this issue:

  • Note from the Commissioner
  • WYPR 88.1FM – Dr. Wen Participates in Midday’s “Healthwatch” Segment
  • Dr. Wen Speaks at United Way of Central Maryland’s Emerging Young Leaders United (ELU) Young Professionals Conference
  • and more

Note From The Commissioner: Treating Addiction in our Hospitals

Last week, Mayor Catherine E. Pugh and I convened all 11 hospitals in Baltimore to announce our partnership to combat the opioid epidemic. Addiction is a disease. Treatment for it cannot be siloed and stigmatized.

Baltimore City hospitals have done exceptional work already. Nearly all of our City’s ERs offer medication-assisted treatment on demand and peer recovery specialists, something true of no other major city in America. Through my standing order for naloxone, more than 36,000 residents have been trained to use the antidote medication, and these residents have saved more than 1,900 lives. Law enforcement and health officials teamed up to start a program that allows residents arrested for low-level drug offenses the opportunity to choose treatment and case management instead of prosecution. In March, we announced the opening of our Stabilization Center, a first-of-its-kind 24/7 urgent care facility dedicated to issues of addiction and mental health.

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