Mayor announces health commissioner’s resignation

Last week, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced that Dr. Oxiris Barbot is leaving her position as Baltimore City Health Commissioner, effective April 26, to head to New York City to become first deputy commissioner of health there.

Dr. Jacquelyn Duval-Harvey, the Baltimore City Health Department’s deputy commissioner, will be interim director upon Barbot’s departure.

“I would like to thank Dr. Barbot for her years of dedicated service to Baltimore,” said Rawlings-Blake in a statement in a press release from her office.

Barbot was appointed commissioner in 2010.

“Her enthusiasm for health and wellness is infectious, and she has left a rich legacy of progressive policies to move our city forward. Dr. Barbot understood that Baltimore had to be aggressive in more than just treatment, but also in addressing the underlying issues that led to poor health—particularly in our most vulnerable communities.”

In the same press release, Barbot offered her own statement:

“It has been a thrilling experience, but the time has come for me to transition to my next endeavor and be closer to my family. I will always treasure my time as commissioner of health and the opportunity I had to shape the direction and focus of public health priorities for the City of Baltimore.”

Both the mayor and Barbot touted the commissioner’s leadership role the rollout of the mayor’s Healthy Baltimore 2015 initiative as a major accomplishment. The initiative is “a comprehensive health policy agenda that articulates 10 priority areas and indicators for action,” states the press release. “The plan highlights the areas where the largest impact can be made toward reducing morbidity and mortality while improving quality of life for all Baltimoreans.”

Barbot was a driving force behind the Planning Department’s push to eliminate residential-area liquor stores from the city using the zoning code rewrite that is now being heard in City Council.

She also factored into a city proposal to relocate the John Booth Senior Center to the Patterson Park Casino building, renovate the Virginia Baker Recreation Center into a full-fledged community center, and add 96 parking spaces and a loop road to Patterson Park. Though the loop road and parking was soundly rejected by residents, the John Booth Senior Center has indeed been relocated. Community representatives are currently meeting with Recreation and Parks to figure out the rest.

by Erik Zygmont

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