Press Releases

Baltimore City Announces New CEO for Behavioral Health Systems Baltimore

BALTIMORE, MD (November 3, 2015)– Today Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen announced the appointment of Kathleen Westcoat as the new President/CEO of Behavioral Health Systems Baltimore (BHSB). She will succeed Acting Interim CEO and Director of Information, Planning and Development Crista Taylor as the top executive for Baltimore’s behavioral health authority, effective December 1st, 2015.

“Kathleen has demonstrated a deep appreciation and love for our city, and will lead the charge as we seek to deliver critical care to those most in need,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “Under her leadership, we look forward to making significant strides in behavioral health in Baltimore.”

Baltimore City Kicks-off 2015 National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

BALTIMORE, MD (October 26, 2015)– Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen joined Maryland Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, Faye Royale-Larkins, CEO of Total Health Care, Ruth Ann Norton, President and CEO, Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI), local, state leaders, and members of the community to kick-off National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW), a weeklong event designed to raise awareness about the threat that lead poisoning poses to our children and our communities.

This year's NLPPW theme, "Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future," underscores the importance of testing your home, testing your child, and learning how to prevent lead poisoning’s serious health effects.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake, Health Commissioner Dr. Wen Announce Synthetic Drug Bill

BALTIMORE, MD (October 26, 2015)– Mayor Rawlings-Blake and Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen today announced new legislation that will impose stiff penalties for individuals selling synthetic drugs, and a new campaign that is targeting retailers from selling these dangerous substances.

Synthetic drugs have seen increased popularity nationwide, including in Washington D.C. Recently, Baltimore City health officials are seeing an increase in visits to emergency departments due to overdoses on synthetic drugs.

Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen Applauds President Obama’s Renewed Efforts Regarding Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin Use

BALTIMORE, MD (October 21, 2015)– Today, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen released the following statement in response to President Obama’s Memorandum on Addressing Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin Use:

“I am thrilled to see the Obama Administration taking such strong steps toward helping our country’s most vulnerable individuals. Addiction is a disease, and the Presidential Memorandum goes a long way in addressing barriers to treatment and targets prevention and outreach efforts while moving away from criminalization.

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.