Friday, June 28, 2019

Health Disparities Workgroup Update

Last October more than 60 Bronx Health REACH Coalition members and community residents held a Not62 Rally on the steps of the Bronx Supreme Court calling on the Mayor, the Governor and all elected leaders to make the health of the Bronx a priority. They chanted, '62 will not do! We can do better! We must do better!'

Earlier this year the the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation along with the University of Wisconsin released the 2019 County Health Rankings Report. And, as in past reports, the Bronx was ranked the unhealthiest county in New York State, i.e. 62 out of the 62 New York State counties. To address the Bronx being the unhealthiest county, the Bronx Health REACH Coalition through its Health Disparities Workgroup took action in March and April to determine the best ways to engage New York elected officials to make the health of the Bronx a policy priority, and a funding priority.

New York State Assemblymember Victor M. Pichardo attended the March 2019 Health Disparities Workgroup meeting (see below for more details) as well as leaders from Bronx Community Boards #5 and #7. The representatives from the Community Boards shared with the Workgroup the challenges they faced including informing Bronx residents of the various services that are available to improve their health. The Community Boards would like to partner with other stakeholders to address health disparities in the Bronx and will work with the Health Disparities Workgroup to get more community participation at community board meetings.

In April, Baretto Bay Strategies, an urban solutions consulting firm that provides strategic advice to public agencies and community development organizations, led an interactive workshop to help the Workgroup create a better strategy to engage elected officials in the #Not62 - The Campaign for a Healthy Bronx. Baretto created an Action Agenda to determine which issues should be addressed and how to identify those individuals who would be allies in addressing the health challenges faced by Bronx residents. A draft SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis was created to help members determine if our target was too big and develop a time frame for reaching our goals. The Workgroup will use the Action Agenda in the coming months to determine the best strategy to promote health equity in the Bronx.

At the May meeting many long time Health Disparities Workgroup members reflected on the loss of Pastor Foley, but found a renewed sense of commitment to keep his legacy alive. Workgroup members vowed to continue to keep the pressure on our elected officials to improve not only the ranking of the Bronx, but the health and well-being of all Bronx residents.

These two workshops were the last efforts of Pastor Foley’s work with Bronx Health REACH before he died.  His leadership will be sorely missed.

If you would like to attend our next Health Disparities Workgroup meeting, join us on Friday, July 12 at 1:00 p.m., at Mt. Zion CME Church, (1148 Elder Avenue), Bronx NY 10472.

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