Press Releases

Baltimore City Health Officials Establish Permanent Drop Boxes For Disposal of Unwanted Prescription Drugs

BALTIMORE, MD (November 16, 2015)– The Baltimore City Health Department, Behavioral Health System Baltimore, and the Baltimore Police Department today announced the establishment of nine new prescription return boxes— one at each Baltimore City police precinct station— to allow individuals to return any expired or unused medication, including prescription opioids, such as Percocet, OxyContin or Vicodin, with no questions asked.

The prescription return boxes will be accessible at all times and are the only locations in the city where Baltimoreans can safely and anonymously dispose of opioids and other prescription drugs, which remain a significant source of addiction in Baltimore.

Baltimore City Announces Beginning of Code Blue Season

BALTIMORE, MD (November 16, 2015)– Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen announced the start of Baltimore City’s Code Blue program for the coming winter.

Code Blue is a multi-agency effort to reduce hypothermia deaths by protecting homeless individuals, seniors and other vulnerable populations from extreme cold weather.

Commissioner Wen Issues Statement Commending HUD's Proposed Rule to Ban Smoking in Public Housing

BALTIMORE, MD (November 12, 2015)–Today, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen issued the following statement commending U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s proposed rule to make the nation’s public housing properties entirely smoke-free.

Dr. Leana Wen Advocates for ‘Healthy And Just’ Communities During American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting

CHICAGO, IL. (November 4, 2015)– Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen today spoke before 12,000 public health professionals at the closing general session of the 2015 American Public Health Association (APHA)’s Annual Meeting and Exposition. As part of a panel discussion with APHA Executive Director Dr. Georges Benjamin and Assistant Secretary of Health Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Dr. Wen spoke to the unique capability that public health leaders have to actively combat health disparities in their communities.

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.”

Health Commissioner Wen Commends Council Health Committee for Advancing Bill to Ban Animal Fighting Paraphernalia

BALTIMORE, MD (November 3, 2015)– Baltimore City Council Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen commended the Baltimore City Council Health Committee for unanimously advancing a bill that would create a criminal charge for the possession of animal fighting paraphernalia during a public hearing today. Introduced in August by Mayor Rawlings-Blake, the legislation aims to make it easier to file charges against people involved in animal fighting if animal control or law enforcement officers enter a location that has clearly been used for animal fighting but find no animals present.

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 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.

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.”