Bmore Healthy Blog

Note From The Commissioner: Remembering Our Colleague

This week, the Baltimore City Health Department mourns the loss of our dear colleague, friend, and dedicated public servant, Phyllis Burnett.

There is so much I can say about her career of exceptional service in public health. Phyllis served as a CDC Public Health Advisor for 35 years. She has been with the Health Department for 15 years, where she developed and supervised the Community Outreach Program and Partner Service Program. Her outstanding work here has been featured nationally, in numerous conferences and presentations.

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Note From The Commissioner: Safe Sleep Campaign

Senator Barbara Mikulski likes to say that one should “Do what you’re best at, and what you’re needed for.” I was honored to be selected as one of Governing’s 2017 Public Officials of the Year and to be among a group of public servants who exemplify that sentiment. Other awardees included Governor Terry McAuliffe (Virginia), Mayor Greg Stanton (Phoenix, Arizona), and Sheriff Tom Dart (Cook County, Illinois). I am so proud to serve alongside the men and women of the Baltimore City Health Department to protect the most vulnerable and to deliver health – a human right – to all.

Public health’s primary duty is to help people where they are and to regard every person with dignity and humanity. Every day, I am inspired and filled with gratitude for my incredible colleagues who carry out these duties and “do what we’re best at and what we’re needed for.”

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Note From The Commissioner: World AIDS Day

On Tuesday, the Congressional House Oversight Committee held a Field Hearing at Johns Hopkins Hospital. I was invited to testify on Baltimore City’s work in combatting the opioid epidemic. Other witnesses included Governor Chris Christie (Chair of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis) and ONDCP Acting Director Richard Baum. Mayor Pugh and Governor Hogan gave remarks as well (the link to the full event is here).

Baltimore has done a lot with limited resources. In my testimony, I discussed Baltimore’s aggressive, three-pillar approach to combatting this epidemic: Save lives with naloxone, expand access to on-demand addiction treatment, and reduce stigma and prevent addiction. I also addressed four things the President’s Commission should have included in their recommendations: Substantial, additional federal funding; health insurance expansion; guaranteed access to treatment for addition; and evidence-based harm reduction practices, including needle exchange programs. Treating addiction as a crime is unscientific, inhumane, and ineffective. In order to save lives, we must also address the stigma surrounding addiction.

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Note From The Commissioner: Giving Thanks

There is much for me to be thankful this year, both at work and at home. This Thanksgiving will be my first celebrating with my newborn son, Eli, now 13-weeks old. He is happy and thriving, and I count my blessings as I celebrate the holiday with him and my family and loved ones.

Last week, I received notice that I have been selected as one of nine “Public Officials of the Year” by Governing Institute, which celebrates public service and public service leaders across the country. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with the dedicated, hardworking staff of the Baltimore City Health Department. The women and men of the Health Department wear many different hats and work under challenging environments as we strive to improve health equity and provide critical services to Baltimoreans every day. Governing recognized the Health Department’s work in addressing the opioid crisis and other pressing public health challenges facing our City. It is a privilege and honor to serve Baltimore under the leadership of Mayor Pugh, and to work towards the health and well-being of our residents with our team and our incredible community partners.

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Public Health Heroes: Environmental Inspection Services extends far beyond restaurant closures

Each day the Baltimore City Health Department’s (BCHD) Bureau of Environmental Health, Environmental Inspection Services (EIS) carries out routine inspections at some of Baltimore’s 5,000 food establishments to ensure that health standards are being met and to certify that businesses are doing their best to keep their customers safe from food-borne illnesses. 

Environmental Inspection team

Note From The Commissioner: Open Enrollment

Earlier this week, I joined Congressman Elijah Cummings to urge all Marylanders to sign up for health insurance at Open enrollment ends Dec 15th. Health insurance is about protecting yourself, your family, and all those around you. Congressman Cummings and I know that no one plans to be sick, but having health insurance provides peace of mind. After all, access to health is access to life.

Last weekend, Mayor Pugh led the Mayor’s Run as part of BCHD’s Healthy Baltimore Initiative and Billion Step Challenge. Baltimore City residents and BCHD staff braved the chilly temperatures to run two miles with the Mayor. I want to thank Mayor Pugh for supporting our Billion Step Challenge and for encouraging Baltimoreans to get active.

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Note From The Commissioner: Continuing Our Work

I brought a special guest to my official swearing in at City Hall last week – my 11-week-old son, Eli (pictured). I am honored to be sworn-in for a second term, and look forward to continue working with the dedicated staff at BCHD. I want to thank Mayor Pugh for the opportunity to continue serving Baltimore and to protect health and improve well-being for all residents in our City.

Every day, I feel fortunate to have a job I love and to work with people who understand how health is integrally tied to social justice and the future of our communities. Our City has many health challenges, but we must also call attention to the progress that we have made in improving health outcomes.

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Note From The Commissioner: What We Can Do

On Monday, I was honored to join President Bill Clinton to discuss the opioid epidemic. Our conversation centered on what we CAN do to save lives. The problem is complex, but there are solutions that work, including many of our pilots here in Baltimore for blanket prescriptions of naloxone, expanding treatment access, and fighting stigma. Thanks to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health for hosting the day and to our other tremendous leaders who were there including Baltimore's own Representative Elijah E. Cummings!

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Note From The Commissioner: Celebrating B'more for Healthy Babies

This week was my first full week back. Nine weeks ago, my husband and I welcomed our son, Eli, into the world. These weeks have been the happiest of my life, but they have also been among the most challenging. I wrote about my experience being a new mother, and how raising a newborn gave me even more passion for our work to provide resources and support, and to serve the most vulnerable.

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Public Health Heroes: Lead Poisoning Prevention Team

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week begins October 22, but for BCHD’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP) Team, the call to action comes every day of the year. Although preventable, lead poisoning and exposure remains a serious problem for Baltimore City residents. 

Lead Poisioning