Press Releases

Commissioner Wen Testifies before State Committee on Baltimore City Heroin Taskforce’s Recommendations

ANNAPOLIS, MD (October 20, 2015)– Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen testified Tuesday before the Maryland State Joint Committee on Behavioral Health and Opioid Use Disorders to update the General Assembly on the recommendations provided by the Baltimore Mayor’s Heroin Treatment & Prevention Task Force Report and to urge the General assembly to provide support for the report’s recommendations.

“As an ER doctor, I have seen the devastation of heroin addiction firsthand, and as the city’s doctor, I have seen how heroin ties into the very fabric of Baltimore,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “It is impossible to separate heroin use from the rampant health disparities that divide our city. Baltimore has been fighting the heroin epidemic for years, and we look forward to sharing the lessons we learned with our State partners and further collaborate to heal our communities.”

Dr. Leana Wen Urges Physicians to Be More Involved in Communities During Keynote Address to National Physicians Alliance

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 17, 2015)– Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen today delivered a keynote address in front of hundreds of medical professionals at the National Physicians Alliance’s 10th Annual Conference.

A founding member of the National Physicians Alliance (NPA), Dr. Wen spoke before the conference, entitled “Truth to Power: Alliance for the Public Good,” to encourage the importance of physician advocacy to overall community health and reiterated the importance of stronger physician-community relations.

B'more for Healthy Babies Celebrates 6 Years of Success

BALTIMORE, MD (October 14, 2015)Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen joined elected officials, city representatives, and families from across Baltimore City today to celebrate six years of success in reducing infant mortality rates at an event honoring the B'more for Healthy Babies (BHB) initiative.

In 2009, Baltimore City had the fourth highest infant mortality rate in the nation. B'more for Healthy Babies was founded to ensure that all babies are born at a healthy weight, full-term and ready to thrive in healthy families. Since the program’s inception, Baltimore’s infant mortality rate has dropped by over 20 percent, hitting its lowest point ever recorded in 2012. Disparities between black and white infant deaths have also consistently decreased. As a result of B’More for Healthy Babies, the teen birth rates in the city have dropped by an unprecedented 32 percent.

Baltimore City Launches New Phone Line to Help Residents in Crisis and Those Seeking Substance Use and Mental Health Services

BALTIMORE, MD (October 5, 2015)–Working to improve access to critically needed care, Baltimore City has launched a new, single phone number for Baltimore City residents to use for substance use and mental health crisis calls, services and treatment, and information.

The Crisis, Information & Referral Line, 410-433-5175, will be answered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, giving people in need of help the opportunity to talk to a trained professional at any time. Creating such a resource is a key recommendation in the city’s recently released report of the Mayor’s Heroin Treatment and Prevention Task Force. 

Health Commissioner Wen Announces Plan to Make Lifesaving Medication Available to All Baltimore Residents

BALTIMORE, MD (September 30, 2015)–Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen today announced plans to issue a “standing order” for naloxone, also called Narcan, a medication that completely reverses the effect of an opioid overdose. Under a change in state law that begins October 1, doctors in the state of Maryland affiliated with local health departments are now able to issue written standing orders that allow designated individuals, such as overdose response program trainees and pharmacists, to dispense naloxone without a doctor’s prescription.

With Dr. Wen’s standing order, Baltimore City will become first jurisdiction in Maryland to expand access to the opioid antidote.

Baltimore City Health Department Announces New Youth Violence Prevention Resource

BALTIMORE, MD (September 29, 2015)– Today, the Baltimore City Health Department was joined by youth leaders from across the city to announce "Words Not Weapons,” a resource card campaign focused on communication as the key to violence prevention. This campaign will ask medical professionals, neighborhood leaders, and young people to pledge their commitment to spreading a message of non-violent conflict resolution.

Baltimore City Health Department Announces Over $20 million in CDC Funding to Help Reduce HIV Infections Among At-Risk Populations

BALTIMORE, MD (September 25, 2015)–The Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) announced today that Baltimore City was awarded over $20 million in grant funding from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to support efforts to reduce HIV infection among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender populations, with an emphasis on MSM of color. The two grants awarded to BCHD are part of $185 million in funding distributed by the CDC to respond to the severe burden of HIV among MSM and transgender men and women.

While new HIV infections are declining across the city–and nationwide–new infections are increasing among MSM and transgender persons in Baltimore. African American populations are particularity at-risk–84 percent of those living with HIV in Baltimore are African American.

Baltimore City Health Department Releases Report Highlighting Community Health Survey Results

Today, the Baltimore City Health Department released the second Baltimore Community Health Survey (CHS) Summary Results Report. The report is based on a survey conducted in the fall of 2014 of 1,722 adults across Baltimore City, and is a follow up to the 2009 CHS.

Safe Streets East Site to Reopen, West Baltimore Program Expansion to Begin

Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen announced today that the Safe Streets East location in McElderry Park will begin limited operations starting today, transitioning to full operations over the coming weeks, following a comprehensive review of the program which resulted in implementation of new training and security protocols to strengthen management and oversight.

Additionally Dr. Wen also announced that the Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) has introduced today a Request for Proposals (RFP) to offer community- based organizations in West Baltimore the opportunity to bring the program credited with reducing gun violence to their neighborhoods. The new site will be Baltimore City’s fifth Safe Streets location. Current sites include: Cherry Hill, Mondawmin, Park Heights, and McElderry Park.

Baltimore City Observes International Overdose Awareness Day

Officials across Baltimore City today observed International Overdose Awareness Day to mark the ongoing fight against overdoses in Baltimore and to remember the 1,113 lives lost to overdose over the last five years.

Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) hosted activities throughout the day, including:

  • Announcing a donation of approximately 6,500 lifesaving EVZIO® naloxone auto-injectors, a prescription for use in opioid overdose emergencies, from pharmaceutical company Kaléo;
  • Free naloxone trainings at five “DontDie.org” bus and Metro station poster sites throughout the city; and
  • A remembrance vigil hosted by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake where 1,113 purple roses—one for each life lost in Baltimore to overdose in the last 5 years— were placed at War Memorial Plaza to honor loved ones who have passed away from substance abuse and to encourage those still struggling with the disease of addiction.

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