Recent News

Baltimore City Health Commissioner Declares First Code Red Heat Advisory for Thursday

BALTIMORE, MD (July 12, 2016) – With a heat index of up to 105 degrees expected tomorrow, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen has issued a Code Red Heat Advisory for Thursday, July 13, 2017. The heat index is a measure of air temperature and relative humidity and indicates how hot it feels to individuals outside.

City Will Use OSI Grant For Outreach To Stop Drug Misuse (WBAL Radio)

Baltimore City has received $200,000 dollars to help fight the opioid epidemic.

The grant money from the Open Society Institute will be used to bring in more people who work to educate addicts or users when there is a spike in overdoses in the city.

City health commissioner Dr. Leana Wen tells WBAL News Radio 1090 teams fan out following a spike to let addicts and users know that there may be a bad batch of heroin or other opioid causing deaths.

About one-third of overdoses in Maryland happen in Baltimore, Wen said.

She says the department works with the fire department, community organizations, police and non-profits and when any of those groups see a spike in overdoses, the outreach team can go out and talk to drug addicts and users.

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More Money, Resources Being Used To Battle Baltimore Drug Problem (WJZ)

Pumping money into the battle of Baltimore’s drug problem.

More cash is pouring onto the streets in an effort to combat what’s already been a deadly summer.

Right now, the raging opioid epidemic claims two lives a day, but authorities have a new targeted approach to save drug users.

The health department is trying to hit the brakes on Baltimore’s drug problem. This time, by putting more outreach workers in neighborhoods to warn and educate.

Littered with needles; haunted by a rising body count.

“The heroin is just tearing **** apart,” said one resident.

On the corner of Ramsey and Monroe, one man leaves the health department’s needle exchange van – asking not to be shown on camera or identified – while telling WJZ’s Kimberly Eiten about his fight to stay sober.

“I’ve been in and out of the systems, to rehabs and rehabs,” he said.

He says it worked, but the opioid epidemic rages on around him.

The south Baltimore intersection is just one in the city seeing a spike in overdoses.

Claiming 700 lives last year, and still killing, on average, two people a day this year.

“Baltimore City is at the epicenter of the epidemic,” said Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen.

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Baltimore City Health Department receives grant to fight opioid epidemic (WMAR)

In the midst of the increasing opioid epidemic, Monday the Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) announced a $200,000 grant from the Open Society Institute - Baltimore (OSI). 

"Baltimore City is thankful for OSI's contribution that will support the health and well-being of our city," said Mayor Catherine Pugh in a statement. "We all have a role to play in protecting our community from the devastation and trauma caused by addiction and overdose."

The grant will be used to serve drug addicts and community engagement surrounding racial equity and drug policy, as well as funding rapid outreach for overdoses. According to recent statistics, Baltimore City suffered nearly 700 fatal overdoses in 2016. 

"As the opioid epidemic continues to plague our city, state and country, the resources have not kept pace with the need," said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. "We are extremely grateful that OSI, our long-time partner in the fight against the opioid epidemic, has provided vital funding during this time of a public health crisis."

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Baltimore gets $200,000 to fight overdoses (WYPR)

The Baltimore City Health Department is getting a new $200,000 grant from the Open Society Institute – Baltimore to aid in the fight against opioid overdoses, city Health Commissioner Leana Wen announced Monday. The money is slated to pay for real-time alerts about overdose spikes and new community engagement efforts.

Through the new program, the health department gets an alert from public safety and hospital officials. Outreach teams then go to areas with large numbers of overdoses to educate the community about the Fentanyl that may be mixed in with Heroin, and about how to use Narcan — the brand name for the drug Naloxone — to stop an overdose.

Wen said one of the biggest challenges her agency faces is the stigma attached to treating opioid addiction.

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$200K private grant to help Baltimore fight opioid epidemic (WBAL)

Baltimore City health officials announced on Monday a private grant will help in the fight against the opioid epidemic.

The opioid epidemic continues to grow, especially in Baltimore City, but at the same time, resources have not kept pace with need.

Despite millions of dollars being directed to fight the opioid epidemic, people in Baltimore City are still dying in unprecedented numbers. The number of fatal overdoses in Baltimore City involving fentanyl have increased more than 35 times since 2013, according to the Health Department.

The Baltimore City Health Department has drawn national attention for its innovative approach to the opioid epidemic. City health officials revealed some new unconventional measures that they are using.

One innovative approach includes training for members of the community on how to administer the overdose-antidote drug Narcan. It's one way the Baltimore City Health Department is building an army to combat a national crisis in a hands-on, personalized approach to save lives.

"Baltimore City is at the epicenter of the epidemic. A third of the overdoses that occur in the state of Maryland, occur right here in our city," Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen said.

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Baltimore City Health Department Receives New Private Funding for Opioid Crisis

BALTIMORE, MD (July 10, 2017)—Baltimore City Health Department today announced that it received a new grant from the Open Society Institute—Baltimore (OSI) to support efforts to reduce stigma around addiction and save lives from overdose. The grant, which totals $200,000, will be used to fund rapid outreach in response to spikes in reported overdoses and community engagement around racial equity and drug policy.

CDC: Opioid prescriptions down, but still overprescribed (WTOP)

WASHINGTON — New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention find opioid prescriptions are down nationwide, but are still overprescribed.

Baltimore City Health Commissioner Leana Wen said it’s good news that opioid prescriptions are down in the State of Maryland from the high of 2010, but doctors are still too quick to prescribe opioid drugs. She said the over-prescription of the highly addictive drug continues to be a huge problem.

“There are enough prescriptions for opioids given so that every adult American can have their own bottle,” Wen said.

Nearly 700 Baltimore City residents died from opioid overdose, said Wen, and even though the state awarded more money for the opioid reversal drug naloxone just last week, they can’t keep up with demands.

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The war on Maryland's opioid epidemic gets new funding (Fox 45)

The state of Maryland is pouring millions of dollars into the fight against heroin and opioid abuse.

The Governor’s office announced on Friday that it’ll provide more than $22 million dollars into the effort.

The funds will be spread among the state’s 24 local jurisdictions.

Two-million dollars will be used to operate a crisis and stabilization center in Baltimore.

“The stabilization center is meant for individuals to stay for sobering,” said Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Lena Wen.

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Baltimore gets $2 million for 'sobering center' as part of larger opioid prevention efforts (Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore City will get $2 million to open a 24-hour "sobering center" to help those addicted to drugs, part of a larger pool of money the state is giving out to every county to fight the heroin and opioid epidemic.

The Governor's Office of Crime Control & Prevention announced Friday how the more than $22 million would be distributed among the state's 24 jurisdictions. The money comes from funds the governor committed to fight the opioid epidemic, the federal government's 21st Century Cures Act and the state's crime control and prevention agency.

Eighty percent of the $22 million will go to local jurisdictions; the rest will be used to fund other efforts and programs, including collaboration between federal, state and local law enforcement, to increase state regulatory oversight of controlled dangerous substances, increase the number of beds in residential drug treatment centers, and make improvements to the statewide crisis hotline

The city health department will also receive $750,000 to buy 20,000 doses of naloxone, the drug used to reverse an opioid overdose that health officials have had to ration because of a shortage. The city will get another $830,429 to fund treatment programs and other efforts to curb the number of opioid deaths and overdoses. City officials can also apply for grants that would make them eligible for up to $6 million in total funding, said Katie Kuehn, communications director with the state's opioid operational command center. The grant money is not guaranteed, however.

City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen said that although the money would help efforts to fight the opioid epidemic, the city should have received a larger proportion because it has been hit harder by the crisis than any other jurisdiction.

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