Thursday, March 3, 2011

BCHD's Loss of Lead Abatement Funds

By now many of you have learned about the Baltimore City Health Department's recent loss of Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) lead abatement dollars.

While loss of these dollars is a troubling setback, it does not mean that lead abatement work will cease in the City.  We will continue to do everything possible to protect the health of families with young children and prevent lead poisoning.  I am pleased to report that Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano and I are working closely together to ensure that these activities continue seamlessly as abatement moves to the Housing Department.  We are sharing all policies and procedures to ensure that their work benefits from the control measures put into place by the health department.  We will continue our work on lead health education and inspections.

During the last four years the department’s lead abatement efforts saw several successes, including the following:

  • Increased the efficiency with which contractors were selected and paid through the City’s procurement system
  • Remediated 697 homes of lead paint risks hazards resulting in a significant increase over the previous two-year period
  • The number of lead poisoned children decreased from 315 in FY08 to 205 in FY10
  • The percentage of Baltimore City children ages 0-35 months who were tested for lead increased 9% from 2007 to 2009
However, it was clear to me during my first weeks on the job that administrative issues impacted the abatement program’s ability to demonstrate effectively the scope of work being done and the quality control measures that had been put in place.  As we work to improve health outcomes in Baltimore City, I expect greater oversight will be achieved through Division Stat, an internal process I instituted for sharing program performance data.

The best way for the health department to maintain the public’s confidence is for us to continue striving for excellence as we do the work of ensuring the health and safety of Baltimoreans on a daily basis.  While recent publicity has been negative, it does not reflect the health department’s level of professionalism and commitment to serving the residents of Baltimore.  I want to thank all health department staff for their hard work, and I remain confident that the department’s sterling reputation will shine through this difficult period.

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