Bmore Healthy Blog

Note From The Commissioner: Virtual Supermarket Launch

On Monday, we announced the launch of our 14th Virtual Supermarket site at Ruscombe Gardens, a residential center for seniors. Our Virtual Supermarket program provides easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables for those living in Healthy Food Priority Areas across the City. Since the Health Department launched the Virtual Supermarket program in 2010, nearly $600,000 worth of groceries have been purchased, with 43 percent of customers buying more fruits and vegetables. I joined our partners at Shoprite to distribute groceries to the residents and to discuss the importance of this program in helping Baltimoreans make the healthy choice the easy choice.

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Public Health Heroes Spotlight: Chronic Disease Prevention Team’s Community Asthma Program

The Health Department’s Chronic Disease Prevention team operates the Community Asthma Program (CAP), an intervention strategy aimed at reducing the number of children and youth in Baltimore between the ages of 2 and 18 who have trouble controlling their asthma. Through CAP, community health workers offer asthma education and visit the homes of young asthma patients.

Asthma

Note From The Commissioner: Advancing Public Health in Baltimore, and Maryland

The Baltimore City Health Department is active in Annapolis testifying in support of bills that will advance public health in Baltimore City and across Maryland. Members of our team testified in favor of a House bill that will establish a Drug Cost Review Commission, which would be responsible for setting fair rates for high cost prescription drugs in Maryland and increasing transparency in drug pricing. We also voiced our support for a Senate bill that will require state and local correctional facilities to have written policies in place concerning medical care for pregnant inmates.

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Note From The Commissioner: Fighting for our Girls, Women, & Families

This week, Baltimore City announced that we will be joining a lawsuit against President Trump, challenging his Administration’s cut in federal funding for evidence-based reproductive health education programs.

In July 2017, the Health Department received notice from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Adolescent Health that the grant period for Baltimore City’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program would be terminated two years early. This amounts to a reduction in overall funding from $8.6 million to $5.1 million – a cut of $3.5 million.

This funding cut will result in reduced access to evidence-based teen pregnancy curricula for 20,000 students in Baltimore, creating a vacuum in critical health education for thousands of vulnerable teens. It eliminates the capacity to train teachers in evidence-based reproductive health education and jeopardizes our Youth Advisory Council—Baltimore City teens who act as peer health advocates.

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Note From The Commissioner: Making the Healthy Choice, the Easy Choice

As a doctor, it used to be that I treated only adults with chronic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. But now, I treat teenagers as young as 13 with these conditions. These kids grow up to be adults who will suffer and die from heart disease, the number one killer of men and women in our City. In Baltimore, one-in-three high school children are obese. It’s no coincidence that one-in-four school-aged children drink one or more soda per day. Public health leaders and doctors agree: sugary drinks are a major contributor to childhood obesity. Taking these empty calories out of children’s diets is the single biggest change parents can make.

Two years ago, I fought to protect our residents by supporting legislation in the Baltimore City Council that places warning labels on all sugary drink advertisements, restaurant menus, and stores that sell these drinks. The warning label included important facts about the dangers of sugary drinks and would have leveled the information playing field for consumers. Yet, despite the support of over 2,000 pediatricians, public health leaders, and advocates, the bill failed.

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Public Health Heroes: Maternal and Infant Care Program’s Nurse Family Partnership

The Health Department’s Maternal and Infant Care program (M&I), operates the national Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) home visiting model to help low-income, first-time mothers have healthy pregnancies and successful birth and aftercare outcomes

Maternal Health Blog

Note From The Commissioner: Protecting the ACA

As an emergency physician, I treated patients before and after the introduction of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Before the ACA, I routinely saw dozens of uninsured patients every single day. They were uninsured not because they didn’t want insurance or believed they didn’t need it, but because they couldn’t afford it. I treated Sarah, a 47-year old nurse’s aide, who was diagnosed with breast cancer that had spread throughout her body. Had she been insured, her cancer could have been detected earlier, and she might have been cured. Instead, Sarah died six months after her diagnosis, leaving her three young children without their mother.

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Note From The Commissioner: Raising Awareness

Last week, I wrote a piece for The Daily Record arguing that access to affordable prescription drugs is a human right. In the ER, I have seen time and time again what happens when people don’t take their medications because they simply can’t afford them. In Baltimore, I experience this limitation every day as we ration the life-saving opioid antidote, naloxone. This should never happen: nobody should be priced out of their ability to live.

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Note From The Commissioner: Advocating for Public Health

With the legislative session in Annapolis underway, the Baltimore City Health Department is actively advocating for public health improvements with our legislators in Annapolis. On Monday, I joined Delegates Brooke Lierman and Robbyn Lewis to endorse legislation that will create the Maryland Violence Intervention and Prevention Program (MVIPP) Fund. The Fund will support science-based, public health approaches to prevent gun violence.

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Note From The Commissioner: Safeguarding Health & Well-Being

The Maryland General Assembly’s 2018 session has started. We at the Baltimore City Health Department are hard at work with our state legislators on a variety of bills to safeguard health and well-being.

A critical priority is protecting the Affordable Care Act and preventing the gains made from being rolled back. Last month, I expressed my full support for a state-enforced individual mandate bill, which would use collected funds and apply them toward marketplace plans for those who are uninsured but do not qualify for Medicaid.  I hope to assist with other legislation to strengthen the ACA, including expansion of Medicaid and Medicare and development of a public option.

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