Leana Wen

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Leana Wen
Dr Leana Wen Jan 2013.jpg
Wen in 2013
President of Planned Parenthood
In office
November 12, 2018 – July 16, 2019
Preceded byCecile Richards
Succeeded byAlexis McGill Johnson
Commissioner of the Baltimore City Health Department
In office
December 5, 2014 – October 12, 2018
Preceded byOxiris Barbot
Succeeded byLetitia Dzirasa
Personal details
Born
Wen Linyan

(1983-01-27) January 27, 1983 (age 38)
Shanghai, China
Spouse(s)
Sebastian Walker
(m. 2012)
EducationCalifornia State University, Los Angeles (BS)
Washington University (MD)
Merton College, Oxford (MSc, MA)
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese溫麟衍
Simplified Chinese温麟衍

Leana Sheryle Wen (Chinese: 温麟衍; born Wen Linyan; January 27, 1983) is an American physician, an op-ed columnist with The Washington Post and a CNN medical analyst. She is a practicing physician, a former Health Commissioner for the City of Baltimore, and author of the book When Doctors Don't Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests. Currently, she is a visiting professor of Health Policy and Management at the George Washington University, where she is a Distinguished Fellow in the Fitzhugh Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity.[1] She is also a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.[2]

Wen previously practiced as an emergency physician at the George Washington University, where she also served as a professor in the School of Medicine & Health Sciences and professor in health policy at the Milken Institute School of Public Health.[3] Prior to this, she was an emergency physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, where she was on the faculty of Harvard Medical School.[4] She also served as the national president of the American Medical Student Association and the American Academy of Emergency Medicine/Resident and Student Association.[5]

From December 2014 until October 2018, Wen served as the health commissioner for Baltimore City under two mayors.[6] She resigned when she was appointed head of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.[7][8] She was the first physician to serve as the organization's president in nearly 50 years.[8] Wen was asked to step down by Planned Parenthood's board of directors on July 16, 2019.[9]

In May 2020, Wen became a contributing columnist for The Washington Post, focusing on health policy and public health.[10] She has been a leading voice in the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic appearing frequently on CNN as an on-air medical analyst.[11][12] In June 2020, she testified in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis on racial disparities and COVID-19.[13]

Wen was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2019.[14]

Early life and education[edit]

Born Wen Linyan (温麟衍) in Shanghai on January 27, 1983,[15] to Ying Sandy Zhang and Xiaolu Wen,[16] Wen moved with her parents to the U.S. when she was eight, by then having the English name Leana Sheryle Wen.[17] Granted political asylum, the Wen family lived in Compton and East Los Angeles in Southern California.[18][19][20] In 2003, Wen and her family became U.S. citizens.[19]

Wen's mother, who died of breast cancer in 2010, first worked as a hotel room cleaner and video store clerk before becoming an elementary school teacher.[20][21] Her father delivered newspapers and was a dishwasher, later serving as technology manager for The Chinese Daily News in Los Angeles.[4][20]

Attending the Early Entrance Program (EEP) at California State University, Los Angeles starting at age 13, Wen graduated summa cum laude at age 18 with a bachelor's degree in biochemistry, in 2001.[22][16][18] She received a Doctor of Medicine from Washington University School of Medicine and has two master's degrees, one in Economic and Social History and another in Modern Chinese Studies,[23] both from the Merton College, Oxford in England where she was a Rhodes Scholar. She also met her future husband, Sebastian Walker, during her time in England.[4]

In 2005, Wen took a one-year leave of absence from medical school to serve as the national president of the American Medical Student Association,[16] where she led campaigns to increase healthcare access, decrease health disparities, and combat conflicts of interest between physicians and the pharmaceutical companies who notoriously use attractive sales representatives and free gifts to influence doctors, especially young interns and medical residents.[24][25] Wen became involved in U.S. and international health policy during medical school, serving in Geneva, Switzerland as a fellow for the World Health Organization and in Rwanda as a fellow for the U.S. Department of Defense.[16] In addition, she advised the U.S. Congress on physician workforce and medical education through her appointment on the Council on Graduate Medical Education by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.[18][26]

Career[edit]

Following medical school, Wen completed a residency at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) and Massachusetts General Hospital (Mass General) and a clinical fellowship at Harvard Medical School in Boston. She is board certified in emergency medicine. She married South Africa native Sebastian Neil Walker in February 2012[4] and started working in emergency medicine at BWH and Mass General before moving to the ER at the George Washington University (GW) in Washington, DC,[23] where she became a professor in emergency and health policy, and the Director of Patient-Centered Care Research.[27] She served as a consultant to the Brookings Institution and the China Medical Board, and conducted international health systems research including in South Africa, Slovenia, Nigeria, Singapore, and China.[28]

As president of Planned Parenthood, Wen worked to expand non-abortion services like maternal health and mental health services and to rebrand Planned Parenthood from its image as an abortion rights advocate to a comprehensive women's health organization that serves women and families.[29] She spoke out about her own experiences as a cervical cancer survivor who struggled with infertility, and about a miscarriage she suffered while in the role.[30][31] Wen was named one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People in 2019 and referred to by Cynthia Nixon in the magazine as a "fierce visionary" for reproductive rights and health care.[32]

In July 2019, she was forced out of her job as president of Planned Parenthood in a dispute over philosophical differences and the direction of the organization amid growing political and legal challenges to abortion.[33] On July 19, 2019, Wen published an opinion editorial in The New York Times which set forth the circumstances underlying her departure from Planned Parenthood.[34] She stated her view that "As one of the few national health care organizations with a presence in all 50 states, Planned Parenthood's mandate should be to promote reproductive health care as part of a wide range of policies that affect women's health and public health." On 24 February 2020, Wen stated "I am 8 months pregnant".[35]

Patient advocacy[edit]

In 2013, St. Martin's Press published her book, When Doctors Don't Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests with coauthor Joshua Kosowsky. It is about how patients can take control of their health to advocate for better care for themselves.[36]

Wen wrote a blog, The Doctor is Listening.[37] She has been a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and Psychology Today on patient empowerment and healthcare reform.[38][39] She has been an advisor to the newly established Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute,[40] and an advisor to the Lown Institute and the Medical Education Futures Study.[41] She was the founder of Who's My Doctor, an international campaign that called for transparency in medicine.[42][43]

Wen is a frequent keynote speaker on healthcare reform, education, and leadership, and has given several TED Talks. Her TED talk on transparency in medicine has been viewed over 1.9 million times.[27][44][45][46]

Baltimore City health commissioner[edit]

In December 2014, Wen was appointed by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to serve as the health commissioner; in December 2016, she was reappointed by Mayor Catherine Pugh. In this role, she oversaw the Baltimore City Health Department, an agency of 1,100 employees and $130 million annual budget with wide-ranging responsibilities, including management of acute communicable diseases, animal control, chronic disease prevention, emergency preparedness, food service inspections, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, maternal-child health, school health, senior services, and youth violence issues.

She directed the city's public health recovery efforts after the 2015 Baltimore riots, including ensuring prescription medication access to seniors after the closure of 13 pharmacies, and developing the Mental Health/Trauma Recovery Plan, with 24-hour crisis counseling, and healing circles and group counseling in schools, community groups, and churches.[47][48]

Following the 2015 Baltimore riots, the Baltimore City Health Department team launched numerous campaigns, including a citywide trauma response plan, youth health and wellness strategy, violence prevention programs, B'Healthy in B'More blog, and B'More Health Talks, a biweekly town hall and podcast series on health disparities.[18][49][50][51][52]

In May 2016, she served as the commencement speaker for the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Notre Dame of Maryland University, where she was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.[53][54] She has also served as commencement speaker at Washington University School of Medicine and at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In 2017, Wen was named as one of Modern Healthcare's 50 Most Influential Physician Executives and Leaders and in 2018 as one of its Top 25 Minority Physician Executives.[55]

In March 2018, on behalf of Wen and the Baltimore City Health Department, the City of Baltimore sued the Trump administration for cutting teen pregnancy prevention funds, which resulted in a federal judge ordering the Trump administration to restore $5 million in grant funding to two Baltimore-based teen pregnancy prevention programs.[56] She wrote an opinion editorial criticizing proposed changes to the Title X program which would affect health clinics in Baltimore providing reproductive health care for low income women.[57] This court decision was later reversed by the 9th Circuit court, enabling the Trump administration to withhold Title X funding for abortion.

Opioid overdose epidemic response[edit]

Wen has led implementation of the Baltimore opioid overdose prevention and response plan, which includes a blanket prescription for the opioid antidote, naloxone; "hotspotting" and street outreach teams to target individuals most at risk; training family/friends on naloxone use; and launching a new public education campaign.[58] Wen testified to the U.S. Senate HELP Committee and U.S. House Oversight Committee on Baltimore's overdose prevention efforts. She led a group of state and city health officials to petition the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on adding black box warnings to opioids and benzodiazepines.[59][60] In March 2016, she was invited by the White House to join President Barack Obama and CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta on a panel discussion, where she spoke about Baltimore's response.[61] She convened doctors and public health leaders to sign the Baltimore Statement on the Importance of Childhood Vaccinations[62] and to successfully advocate to ban the sale of powdered alcohol in Maryland and synthetic drugs in Baltimore.[63][64]

Congressman Elijah Cummings cited Wen's efforts to combat the opioid epidemic in Baltimore and sought her help in creating national legislation to change how the United States fights it.[65]

In 2018, the National Association of County and City Health Officials awarded the Baltimore City Health Department the Local Health Department of the Year.[66][non-primary source needed]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "Brookings Institution". Brookings. Retrieved October 26, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "About Leana Wen". The GW Medical Faculty Associates. Retrieved April 14, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b c d Mallozzi, Vincent (February 12, 2012). "Leana Wen, Sebastian Walker--Weddings". The New York Times. Retrieved July 12, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Tanner, Lindsay (September 2, 2013). "Forget Marcus Welby: Today's Docs Want a Real Life". AP News. Retrieved January 17, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
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  8. ^ a b "Dr. Leana Wen to Serve as President of Planned Parenthood" (Press release). Planned Parenthood Federation of America. September 12, 2018. Retrieved September 14, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
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  36. ^ Wen, Leana S.; Kosowsky, Joshua M. (2014). When doctors don't listen : how to avoid misdiagnoses and unnecessary tests. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 9781250048486. OCLC 857982040.
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  61. ^ Nadia Kounang. "Obama: Addiction is a preventable disease". CNN. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  62. ^ Wen, Leana; Czinn, Steven; Dover, George (November 12, 2015), "Vaccines are safe, effective and life-saving", The Baltimore Sun
  63. ^ McDaniels, Andrea K (March 26, 2015), "Health concerns spur ban on powdered alcohol", The Baltimore Sun
  64. ^ Barnett, Gigi. "New City Law Punishing Stores That Sell Synthetic Drugs". Retrieved June 12, 2016.
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  66. ^ "Baltimore City Health Department Named Local Health Department of the Year". Baltimore City Health Department. July 17, 2018. Retrieved August 22, 2018.

External links[edit]