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Building a more equitable health system in NYC

Building a more equitable health system in NYC

Black and Latino children make up 58% of the child population in New York City. Yet in the ten communities with the highest level of risk present, Black and Latino children comprise an astounding 94% of the child population.

That statistic is no accident. In the United States, years of systemic oppression have contributed to unequal health outcomes that persist today.

Dr. Aletha Maybank is working to change that in her role as Deputy Commissioner at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Founding Director of the Center for Health Equity. On January 31st, her Special Assistant Joseph Lormel joined CCC Board & Advocacy Council members at their annual breakfast to talk more about the Center for Health Equity’s work and its connection to the CCC mission.

The Center for Health Equity works within the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to strengthen and amplify the department’s work to eliminate health inequities rooted in historical and contemporary injustices and discrimination.

The Center has laid out a clear agenda for dismantling racist structures in our society. That agenda starts with becoming a racial justice organization by specifically naming and addressing social, economic and environmental factors that contribute to inequities in health. It goes on to make injustices visible via data and storytelling. Publicizing data, like our CCC’s Community Risk Ranking, about inequitable outcomes throughout the city and giving names and stories to the children and families those staggering statistics represent help bring awareness, attention, and action to the issues.

Next, the Center invests in key neighborhoods via place-based efforts. Its Neighborhood Health Action Centers offer an array of critical services, including clinical and programmatic providers, navigators and referral specialists, a Women’s Health Suite with resources such as a lactation lounge and children’s nook, neighborhood convening space, and soon, kitchens and gardens for communal meals and nutritional programming.

The centers are located in communities that data consistently show suffer some of the poorest health outcomes – East Harlem, Tremont, and Brownsville. More centers are slated to open in Morrisania, Central Harlem, Bedford, and Bushwick this year. The geographical targeting of resources to communities where they are most needed helps to break down the structural barriers that blocked resources from reaching the communities in the first place.

The Center then mobilizes advocates, activists and community members to fight for health equity across policies and amplifies the power of individual communities through collective action and volunteerism.

At CCC, we are getting ready to unveil new data analysis and visualization tools on our Keeping Track Online database that will allow New Yorkers to map where risks concentrate and will also bring asset data online to facilitate exploration of the presence or absence of services, supports and infrastructure in a community.

These tools will give us an even deeper understanding of disparities children and families face across neighborhoods and will allow us to more effectively advocate for the targeting of necessary resources and services. In partnership with organizations like the Center for Health Equity, we can confront systemic barriers to wellbeing and ensure children and families get the justice they deserve.

You can download the full presentation here. 

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