January 24, 2019

Conference Speaker Spotlight: Who is Leana Wen, MD, MSc, FAAEM?

Dr. Wen is a force. Dr. Wen is an advocate. Above all, Dr. Wen is a healer. Currently the President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the first physician in almost 50 years to hold that position, it was in her recent role as Baltimore City Health Commissioner that Dr. Wen made history by signing a standing order to address the opioid crisis in Baltimore. Dubbed the Hope Act, this historic step is part of a bipartisan law known as the Heroin and Opioid Effort, giving outreach workers the ability to reach more city residents with life-saving medication.

Under Dr. Wen’s direction, the Baltimore City Health Department led the country in health innovations and was recognized by the National Association of County and City Health Officials as the Local Health Department of the Year. Facing an unprecedented number of deaths attributed to opioid overdose, Dr. Wen issued a blanket prescription for the opioid antidote naloxone to all 620,000 residents of Baltimore. This program is recognized to have saved nearly 3,000 lives in three years. But Dr. Wen’s contributions to local public health do not end there. Under her direction, the B’More for Healthy Babies program led to a nearly 40 percent reduction in infant mortality. She also launched Vision for Baltimore, a program providing free glasses to every child who needs them. Following the 2015 Baltimore protests, Dr. Wen began programs to deliver medications and improve food access to seniors. She expanded trauma and mental health services; secured funding for Safe Streets, a program designed to treat gun violence as a contagious disease; and led public health campaigns on vaccinations, childhood obesity, and racism as a public health issue.*

Dr. Wen has made it a key part of her professional mission to address opioid abuse, and has declared opioid overdose a public health emergency. Advocating for the people of Baltimore and the United States as a whole, she wants physicians to understand the impact and role they play in contributing to this crisis—and to take responsibility. Overdose is now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50. However, the opioid epidemic did not arise overnight; a culture of a “pill for every pain” contributed to the worsening of this crisis.

We are honored to have Dr. Wen presenting at the 2019 Annual Educational Conference and look forward to her session, Addressing the Opioid Epidemic: The Responsibility of Physicians, on Friday, March 8 from 10:00-11:30 a.m. In a presentation that speaks directly to the conference theme of Rediscovering Meaning in Medicine, Dr. Wen will discuss the journey that led to the current crisis, the importance of incorporating addiction treatment into graduate medical education, and her position that addiction treatment is somehow viewed as separate from the rest of the health care system.

For an in-depth and fascinating discussion of this critically important healthcare issue, be sure to add Dr. Wen’s session to your schedule!

Note: This year participants will be able to change their schedules through the Conference Mobile App in real time if they need to make any schedule modifications. All registered attendees will receive Mobile App login instructions by e-mail two weeks before the conference.

If you haven’t completed your registration yet, online registration closes February 8 – register today and join us in Orlando!

* Details via www.plannedparenthood.org