Bmore Healthy Blog

Note from the Commissioner: Signing Off for a few Weeks

For the next several weeks, I am signing off from my weekly newsletter note in order to spend time with my family and my newborn son, Elias “Eli” Wen Walker. I am extremely excited to be a mother and am proud of the work we do at BCHD to help childrenexpecting mothers, families and communities in our great city.

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Note from the Commissioner: Innovative Efforts in Baltimore to Combat the Opioid Epidemic

This week, leaders, healthcare professionals, and other frontline workers from across the U.S.

Note from the Commissioner: We need to Save Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs

While the Affordable Care Act repeal conversations in Congress are on hold, there have been significant funding cuts that threaten the most vulnerable residents in Baltimore and across the U.S.

In July, BCHD received notice from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that a grant to provide comprehensive teen pregnancy prevention services will be terminated two years early, resulting in a reduction of $3.5 million for funding in Baltimore City.

Note from the Commissioner: Rhetoric is not Enough

This week, I joined Mayor Catherine E. Pugh and leaders from across the nation at CityLab Baltimore. As Mayor Pugh said, Baltimore is a city rich with resources and anchor institutions that can fuel innovation, especially in neighborhoods that have been neglected.

At CityLab, it was my honor to speak alongside former White House Director of National Drug Control Policy Michael Botticelli on a panel to discuss the opioid epidemic in Baltimore and across the nation. Other speakers included former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and writer D. Watkins.

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Note from the Commissioner: Baltimore's Billion Step Challenge

Tomorrow, I will join Mayor Catherine E. Pugh to launch Baltimore’s Billion Step Challenge. Over the past few months, Assistant Commissioner of Chronic Disease Prevention Greg Sileo and his team collaborated with business partners, community-based organizations, and neighborhood groups toward the goal of activating residents’ physical health and to accumulate one billion steps by July 2018.

Chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes contribute to some of the most pressing health disparities in Baltimore. In Healthy Baltimore 2020, our strategic blueprint for health and wellness in Baltimore City, we aim to cut health disparities in half over the next ten years. The Billion Step Challenge will help us to reach that goal.

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Note from the Commissioner: Expanding Baltimarket Healthy Stores Program

This week, I had the opportunity to keynote the Women’s Wealth and Health Equity Summit hosted by Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings and Global Policy Solutions. It was inspiring to be surrounded by so many women and men who are dedicated to improving the health and well-being of others across the country. Policy alone is not enough to make significant change—we also need action, resources, and dedication to service. 

I spoke about how choice is predicated on privilege and power. As an emergency physician, I see patients who come to me with complications of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. I can counsel them on the importance of making healthy food choices, but we also must make these options available—something that is difficult for the one in four Baltimoreans who lack access to healthy food. This is an issue of health and justice.

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Note from the Commissioner: Stay Alert with Extreme Summer Heat

Yesterday, we declared the first Code Red extreme heat alert this summer in Baltimore City. To protect our residents from adverse health effects from extreme heat, the city enacted a multi-agency response to provide heat safety education and cooling relief to vulnerable populations in Baltimore.

Excessive high temperatures are a silent killer and a public health threat, particularly for the young, the elderly and those in our city who are the most vulnerable. It is important for all residents to protect against hyperthermia and dehydration by staying cool and hydrated as the heat continues throughout this summer. 

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Public Health Heroes: From Code Red to Zika, the Emergency Preparedness and Response Team Has a Plan

While most of us do not spend our days preoccupied with the details of a wide-spread disease outbreak or medical transportation services during a large winter storm, there is a small group of seven

Note from the Commissioner: Rationing Naloxone

In Baltimore City, two people a day die of overdose. We need more support proportional to the demand for resources and disease severity.

We are rationing naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal medication, because we are running out while the demand grows. We only have about 4,000 naloxone kits remaining. If we gave out the kits as needed during our outreach around the city, we would run out in two weeks. Instead, it is expected that we stretch the kits until next summer. With more than 1,000 lives saved by residents using naloxone, we should not have to strategically choose who lives or dies.

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Note from the Commissioner: Health care is not just a policy—it is about people’s lives

This week, we learned that the Senate health care proposal would cause over 22 million Americans to lose health insurance coverage. Access to health care is a basic human right because it means access to life. During a forum last weekend with U.S. Senator Van Hollen and Congressman Steny Hoyer, I said that health care is not just a policy—it is about people’s lives. We are deeply concerned about the health of the most vulnerable populations of our communities.