We must begin to think about health beyond hospitals, understanding that the health of our communities and those within communities is influenced by our day-to-day activities, our access to healthcare and our environment. For our city to thrive, we must be a healthy city – our residents must have access to nutritious food, must live in homes free of environmental hazards, and must have access to quality healthcare. The health of the residents of the city determines the health of the city itself.
Environmental risks like lead, mold, insects, and pollution impact residents’ health and can cause permanent damage to children’s mental and physical development. Currently, 56,000 Baltimore children under the age of 6 are at risk for lead poisoning and one in every five Baltimore City children has asthma.
Baltimore residents are free from environmental hazards
Together we can:
Implement a comprehensive plan to end lead exposure in Baltimore, especially among children, including:
Hiring more inspectors to ensure all of Baltimore City’s rental units are examined and certified as lead safe.
Creating a system for residents to report cases where an inspector falsely or improperly certified a unit as lead free and aggressively investigate inspectors who are reported.
Providing home lead testing kits to any family that requests one in Baltimore City.
Accelerating the implementation of Maryland’s new initiative to test all 1 and 2 year olds for lead exposure, in part, by ensuring all children participating in Baltimore City’s home-visiting and other early childhood programs are tested.
Establishing a team of skilled workers to replace the windows and pipes, and remove lead paint of any housing unit where children are found to have been exposed.
Conducting random testing to determine levels of lead contamination in Baltimore City schools’ drinking water and work with schools to replace lead pipes and end student exposure to this toxic substance.
Baltimore residents have access to healthy foods
Together we can:
Establish a plan for every resident to have access to a grocery store where they live by:
Encouraging grocery stores to move to underserved communities by conducting detailed analyses capturing communities’ financial assets and purchasing power to support successful enterprises.
Expanding the system for residents to order and receive grocery orders at home, local libraries, elementary schools or senior/disabled housing sites without paying a delivery fee (Model: Baltimore Food Policy Initiative).
Increase the number of healthy food retailers in Baltimore, especially in underserved communities, by:
Investing in building the capacity of corner stores to offer healthier options (Model: Healthy Stores Baltimore).
Increasing the number of Baltimore City Farmers Markets in underserved communities, which also serve as job creation opportunities
Incentivizing the establishment of pop- up food retail in underserved areas for burgeoning food businesses.
Transforming urban spaces to make food accessible to all Baltimoreans by planting fruit trees in food deserts, growing orchards on vacant lots, and continuing to provide incentives/ tax credits for urban farming.
Make healthy foods affordable for low-income residents by:
Increasing incentives (i.e. 3:1) for using food stamps to buy healthy foods (double points food stamps. ebt initiative, baltimore promise & outcome stat).
Collaborating with local farmers to distribute surplus produce at reduced or no cost to residents. (Model: Hungry Harvest).
Baltimore residents have high quality health care
Together we can:
Seek full enrollment of eligible residents in health insurance made possible through the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Invest in the expansion of school-based health centers to ensure students have access to physical, mental, and socio-emotional health supports – and ensure these centers are fully staffed with highly qualified medical professionals such as MDs and Physician’s Assistants.
Continue to strengthen the network of community health workers, mental health professionals and other health professionals and expand neighborhood-based health interventions, with a focus on addressing major problem areas for Baltimore residents such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma.
Build the capacity of health providers to effectively meet the needs of LGBT residents, closing gaps in access to care and addressing issues of violent victimization, suicide, depression, substance abuse, and homelessness.
Coordinate with community organizations and health partners to implement a comprehensive strategy to test, diagnose early, and treat individuals who have HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cancer, hepatitis and other chronic illnesses.
Baltimore residents are free from addiction
Together we can:
Develop a concrete implementation and funding plan with clear benchmarks and public accountability mechanisms to put into place treatment on demand – a longstanding priority of the Baltimore community (and a key recommendation of the Mayor’s Heroin Treatment and Prevention Task Force Report). Key aspects of this plan and strategy should include:
Centralized, easy-to-access intake that is available 24/7, with immediate access to an addiction counselor or social worker;
Availability of evidenced-based treatment options that align with patient need (as opposed to just lowest-cost);
Universal case management;
Treatment for co-occurring disorders; and
Access to treatment for most vulnerable individuals in the city such as inmates and the recently incarcerated.
Continue to equip police officers and other first responders with Naloxone and train them in its use.
Increase the capacity of clinics to provide inpatient services to residents with substance abuse issues.
(Companion recommendation from We are Safe: Build the capacity of community responders to divert drug offenders to treatment and rehabilitation instead of arrest and incarceration)