Statement from Baltimore City Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

All press inquiries related to this press release should be directed to
Staci McCabe: [email protected] or 303-880-9262.

Nearly four years ago, I was given the profound honor and privilege of serving as the Baltimore City Health Commissioner. Every day since then, under the leadership of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and then Mayor Catherine Pugh, I’ve served with the most dedicated public servants I’ve ever known, joined in a common mission to combat disparities and improve health and well-being in Baltimore. Together, we have accomplished so much: we’ve saved nearly 3,000 lives from opioid overdose; reduced infant mortality to record lows; provided glasses for all children who need them; treated violence and racism as public health crises; and convened all sectors to improve community well-being.

A core principle in public health is to go where the need is. The single biggest public health catastrophe of our time is the threat to women’s health and the health of our most vulnerable communities.

Today, the Board of Directors at Planned Parenthood Federation of America announced that I have been selected as its President. I will be succeeding Cecile Richards, and will be the first physician to serve as President of Planned Parenthood in nearly 50 years. 

For the last 100 years, no organization has done more for women’s health than Planned Parenthood, and I’m truly honored to be named its president. As a patient, I depended on Planned Parenthood for medical care at various times in my own life, and as a public health leader, I have seen firsthand the lifesaving work it does for our most vulnerable communities. As a doctor, I will ensure we continue to provide high-quality health care, including the full range of reproductive care, and will fight to protect the access of millions of patients who rely on Planned Parenthood.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama has said, “All of us are driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do – that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be.” Providing healthcare and fighting to protect that access to care—that’s what I have been doing my entire life. I am so proud to do this at the Baltimore City Health Department, and soon, at Planned Parenthood: to lead the fight for healthcare access, for gender equality, and for our core values in support of women, children, families, and vulnerable communities. The cost of taking on this fight is leaving a job I love and colleagues I admire and draw inspiration from every day. But at this critical juncture in our nation’s history, it is my obligation to take on this challenge and fight with everything I have.

I wish to thank Mayor Catherine Pugh for her leadership. I am also so grateful to my wonderful team at the Baltimore City Health Department.

My last day as Health Commissioner will be a month from today: Friday, October 12th. The Mayor will be designating an Interim Health Commissioner before my departure, and will also be announcing a national search for my successor. In the meantime, the day-to-day operations at the Health Department will go on, as they always do, in service of our residents.

Thank you for your support, your friendship, and your partnership to improve health and well-being in Baltimore.

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