Baltimore Wins $8.4M Infrastructure Grant for Public Health

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CDC recognizes Baltimore City Health Department’s need to develop long-term capabilities

For Immediate Release

Baltimore, MD – The Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) was recently awarded a 5-year $8.4M grant that supports investments in the people, services, and systems needed to protect and promote public health in the City.

“This grant supports direct spending on much-needed resources that invest in our depleted workforce following the aftermath of the pandemic,” Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said. “We will use this important funding for public health infrastructure allowing us to establish more resilient internal systems, processes, and protocols.”

Restoring the Ranks of Public Health

Commissioner Dzirasa said the pandemic put a tremendous strain on the Health Department. BCHD was one of the few City agencies that operated without interruption during the worst days of COVID-19. These conditions gave way to feelings of burnout throughout the department as staff maintained its day-to-day operations while coordinating new critical public health services such as mass COVID testing and vaccination programs.

With this new funding stream, BCHD is able to hire at least a dozen new staff members that will focus on improving the organization; retaining its workforce; and bolstering morale throughout the Agency.

“These new positions will support our ability to provide training and professional development for our staff and create a healthy and supportive work environment for team members who have given their all to public health over the past almost 3 years,” Commissioner Dzirasa said. 

BCHD will also add much-needed administrative staff to ease the daily burdens of program managers– giving them more time to focus on strategic outcomes, according to Commissioner Dzirasa.

The flexibility of the funding will also allow for new contract and grant management software, as well as funding for position recruitment and retention support for a workforce that has historically been underpaid in comparison to the private sector.

Investing in Data-Driven Performance

BCHD will make an unprecedented investment in its data infrastructure and capabilities by implementing a new Electronic Health Records (EHR) application. Once complete, BCHD will have seamless access to health records from other health systems to continue to provide quality and coordinated care to City residents. In real terms, BCHD epidemiologists and data scientists will have the ability to track outbreaks from viral infections to food poisoning events in new and powerful ways.

And, at the community level, this investment will allow BCHD health clinics to provide City residents access to electronic lab ordering and results; a patient portal for underserved communities to access their medical records; a telehealth platform; and secure email communication 24 hours a day that patients can use to communicate with providers.

The CDC awarded this $8,428,472 grant will fund BCHD staff and programming through 2027. The grant was awarded on December 1, 2022, as part of a $3.2B funding effort by the federal government to help state, local, and territorial jurisdictions across the United States strengthen their public health workforce and infrastructure. 

The Baltimore City Health Department is the oldest continuously-operating health department in the nation. The agency’s mission is to protect health, eliminate disparities, and enhance the well-being of everyone in our community through education, coordination, advocacy, and direct service delivery. The Agency is led by Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, a pediatrician trained at Johns Hopkins and educated at Meharry Medical College– one of America’s largest, and oldest, HBCU medical schools. She has served in three administrations during her time as Baltimore City Commissioner of Health since her tenure began in March 2019.

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