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Baltimore County News

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Date: May 2, 2018

Initiative Fosters a Culture of Good Health

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced and signed an Executive Order mandating that 100 percent of all items offered in Baltimore County-controlled vending machines must meet healthy nutrition standards.

Joined by Gregory Wm. Branch, M.D., MBA, CPE, FACP, Health Officer and Health and Human Services Director; Shawn McIntosh, Executive Director, Sugar Free Kids Maryland; Michaeline Fedder, Government Relations Director, Maryland, American Heart Association, Kamenetz emphasized the importance of creating a culture of good health within its workforce and among its residents.

“The epidemic of obesity presents an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and orthopedic problems and dramatically drives up healthcare costs,” said Kamenetz. “We have made it a mission to improve the lives of our employees. In addition to healthier choices in our vending machines, county employees may take advantage of nutrition seminars, smoking cessation classes, and a wellness center where they can utilize treadmills with e-mail access.”

This Executive Order changes the County’s vending machine contract from a typical vending contract (with little to no nutrition requirements) to 100 percent healthy vending standards defined as nutrition requirements meeting the standards of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and American Heart Association (AHA). These standards control total calories per snack, sodium, sugar and others with an emphasis on reducing calorie intake and increasing heart-healthy options. It is noteworthy that the County Executive’s “100 percent” requirement is rare among jurisdictions which generally only require that “50 percent” of included products meet HHS and AHA standards, making Baltimore County a leader in this area.

Shawn McIntosh, Executive Director of Sugar Free Kids Maryland, who participated in today’s event, said, “ Our coalition applauds Baltimore County Executive Kamenetz for signing the Executive Order to ensure that the healthy choice will be the easy choice in vending machines across Baltimore County. With these changes, Baltimore County is prioritizing the health of its residents, students and workers. Nationally, 75 percent of all healthcare dollars are spent to treat chronic diseases. Healthier options will reduce that figure.”

The full text of the Executive Order and photos from the event are available on the County’s website.

County to Build In-Patient On-Demand Treatment Facility in Owings Mills

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced today that Baltimore County will renovate a County-owned building on the Rosewood campus in Owings Mills to house a privately-operated treatment program providing on-demand residential treatment for some 300 people per year. The facility is expected to open in November of 2019 with approximately 70 beds. 

“Making additional treatment beds available will go a long way to providing the intensive, personalized care needed to help stem this public health epidemic,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

The treatment facility will be located in the Richards Building on the campus of the former Rosewood State Hospital in Owings Mills. The cost of the renovation is projected to be in the range of $2.5 to $3 million.  The renovations are expected to take 12 to 18 months with the facility estimated to be open in 18 months. The County will issue a Request for Quotations (RFQ) seeking a private partner to run the opioid treatment program at our newly renovated facility.  The RFQ process will take several months.

“This is a tremendously positive life-saving initiative for the entire Baltimore County community, and Rosewood is a good choice for such a greatly needed health resource,” said Council Chair Julian Jones.

The Opioid Issue

The rate of overdose deaths involving opioids has increased 200% since 2000. Of particular concern is the number of fentanyl-related deaths which have continued to increase in the county since 2010.

The opioid epidemic has impacted Baltimore County in several other ways, including increases in the number of substance exposed newborns, increases in the number of children entering foster care and increases in the number of County residents seeking treatment options.

The Baltimore County Department of Health provides resources and linkage to care for substance abusers and their families, offers a broad range of programs and services to prevent substance abuse, and develops, coordinates, and monitors a countywide network of substance abuse prevention and treatment services.

The following services are available in various locations throughout the County:

  • Outpatient treatment
  • Intensive outpatient treatment
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Residential treatment
  • Peer Recovery support services
  • Family support and education
  • Overdose response training
  • Walk-in Assessment Clinics

People may call the Baltimore County Department of Health at 410-88-REACH (73224) for additional information about any of these resources.

“I am so excited to have so many additional beds for treatment on demand,” said Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch, Director of the Baltimore County Department of Social Services. “This will truly be a lifesaving effort.” 

County Suing Pharmaceutical Companies

On April 25, Baltimore County filed a federal lawsuit against several pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors of opioids, seeking monetary damages incurred by the County.

“We believe that the pharmaceutical industry pressured doctors into prescribing opioids for chronic pain, and purposely misrepresented the risk of addiction,” Kamenetz said. “The desire to increase profits on the part of drug companies is a leading cause of our nation’s health crisis, and we are fighting back.”

Decries Hogan’s Interference in Local School System Decision-making

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz released the following statement in response to the State Superintendent of Schools declining to approve the appointment of Verletta White to serve as BCPS Superintendent of Schools.

"Larry Hogan has a troubling pattern of playing politics at the expense of children's education. He's created turmoil over the school calendar and the school construction process. Now he directs his schools chief to take the unprecedented step to overturn the judgment of the local school board who knows Superintendent White best. He's shameless!"

Revised September 11, 2017