Note From The Commissioner: Sharing the Principles that Guide Our Work

Park School

This week, I had the honor of visiting the Park School of Baltimore as their 2017-2018 Resident Scholar. Each year for more than 30 years, the Park School Parents’ Association invites a Resident Scholar to address the Upper School student body. Leaders from the fields of science, politics, music, and literature – including Ta-Nehisi Coates and April Ryan – have visited the Park School as Scholars. 

In my address to the students, I shared the principles that guide the work that we do at the Baltimore City Health Department. First, I spoke about how we see a problem and act immediately to address it – we don’t wait for someone else to step up. I highlighted our work on Vision for Baltimore, for example, which identified a need for eyeglasses and brought together partners to provide those services.

Second, I talked about how we can move the needle if we focus on one goal—our North Star—and convene partners to achieve it. A successful collective impact strategy has been B’more for Healthy Babies, which has decreased infant mortality in our City by 38% and decreased the black-white disparity in infant mortality by more than 50%.

Third, I spoke about how we at the Health Department focus on saving lives. I issued a standing order for naloxone in 2015 because we know that if we do not save a life today, there is no chance for a better tomorrow. To date, we have trained 43,000 people to administer naloxone and everyday Baltimoreans have saved nearly 3,000 lives from overdose death.

The Park School students asked me many questions delving into public health. I was encouraged and excited about the passion and promise of the next generation. The young people across our City are filled with exciting ideas for making our world a better and a healthier place. I thank them and I thank you for your important work in pursuit of this aim, and for serving our community every day.  


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

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