The Bronx has improved since last year in a number of health categories in spite of ranking last in New York State in terms of health outcomes and health factors
March 26, 2015 – In a report issued this week, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute ranked the nation’s counties on various measures of health, and the Bronx ranked 62nd out of all 62 counties in New York State. Despite this ranking, Bronx County performed better in 2015 than in 2014 for a number of health outcomes and health factors, including fewer premature deaths, improved food environment, fewer sexually transmitted infections, a lower teen birth rate, more mental health providers, fewer preventable hospital stays, and a lower unemployment rate.
The Health Department, Montefiore Health System, the Bronx Borough President’s office and other partners have joined together to highlight the various programs that have helped lead to these improvements, and they have created a new social media hashtag #Not62 to encourage community partners and residents to join the discussion about creating a healthier Bronx.
“The health disparities that arise in the Bronx are a reminder that we need to do more to address the health needs of populations that face the most significant social, economic, and health challenges,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “With our partners in both the public and private sector, we have started to see improvements in some key areas, including Health Department programs designed to promote a healthier environment for school aged children. The Bronx District Public Health Office (DPHO), which is part of our newly created Center for Health Equity, has been a driving force in these improvements, and we are certain the work they are doing will continue to have a positive impact on the overall health of the Bronx.”
“The Bronx District Public Health Office has done a lot of work with our partners on how to effect change at the neighborhood level and reduce health disparities, but our work is far from done,” said Dr. Jane Bedell, Assistant Commissioner of the Bronx District Public Health Office. “We will continue to find new ways to bring all the stakeholders together on this, from residents, to community-based organizations, to faith-based organizations and elected officials so that together, we have a shared vision, a common agenda and set of strategies to tackle these important issues.”
“The rankings are a call to action on the generation-spanning obstacles to good health that continue to face the Bronx, including poverty, unemployment and underemployment, and diminished access to education. Every day, we see that improving health outcomes in the Bronx takes more than excellent health care. That is why for over a quarter of a century, Montefiore has partnered with Bronx communities, community-based service providers, the City Departments of Health and Education, elected officials, and the private sector to make steady progress in addressing the socioeconomic causes of the borough’s health challenges. We are grateful to Commissioner Bassett for her ongoing commitment to the health of New Yorkers and to Borough President Diaz for his tireless leadership on behalf of the borough. Working together, with sustained investment, the people of the Bronx can lead the way to increased economic and educational opportunities – and better health – for all,” said Steven M. Safyer, MD, president and CEO of Montefiore Health System.
“I am encouraged by the tremendous borough wide partnerships working together to address our borough’s health rankings,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.“ We are fortunate to have the commitment of partners like the Bronx Health Reach and the CUNY Institute for Health Equity, in addition to the partners named here, to launch #Not62. This campaign aims to engage major stakeholders across multiple sectors to address the determinants of health, improve the health outcomes of Bronx residents, and have the Bronx move up in the county health ranking in 3-5 years. In order to reach every person who lives, works, plays and prays in our borough, #Not62 employs social media encouraging all Bronxites to use Twitter, or Facebook, or Instagram to post pictures of healthy habits on a daily basis. I am confident that we will continue to make progress and get ourselves out of last place!”
Health Department Programs
Bronx Healthy Schools Initiative
The mission of this program is to create a healthier school environment that promotes healthful eating and physical activity. Four public health educators conduct regular visits with 100 elementary and middle schools in the Bronx DPHO to introduce themes of nutrition, physical activity, and wellness.
The public health educators also conduct workshops and presentations for staff, parents, and students on Health Department initiatives that focus on healthy eating and physical activity.
Bronx Teens Connection
Bronx Teens Connection (BxTC) is a community-wide, multi-component initiative of the Health Department to improve adolescent sexual and reproductive health in the South Bronx. Despite a 23 percent decline in teen pregnancy rates in the South Bronx between 2002 and 2009, the teen pregnancy rate in the South Bronx remains nearly 50 percent higher than the rate citywide, with approximately 12 percent of South Bronx teens aged 15-19 becoming pregnant. The vast majority of these pregnancies (85 percent) were unintended. This initiative builds on recent partnerships and collaborations focusing on teen health outcomes, and allows us to further invest in the future of the South Bronx.
BxTC brings together youth, parents, community-based organizations, high schools, community- and school-based clinics, city-wide agencies, and youth-serving organizations in a comprehensive, community-wide effort to reduce unintended teen pregnancy. Activities are being implemented across four areas: evidence based and evidence informed programs, access to quality clinical services, community engagement and mobilization, stakeholder education. BxTC has also created public awareness campaigns, such as the “Your Talk” campaign that ran in bus shelters throughout the South Bronx, to help encourage parents and teens to talk about sexual responsibility and reduce the risk of both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
By working together with all of our community partners and stakeholders, Bronx Teens Connection will succeed in improving the health and lives of teens, and we will build a sustainable model that can be replicated citywide and beyond.
Montefiore Health System Programs
Montefiore Health System and its academic partner, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, are committed to the shared values of social justice and community service. Montefiore provides care through a network of more than 150 ambulatory sites, a home health agency, and eight hospitals. For almost 20 years, Montefiore has pioneered innovative programs to address the socioeconomic determinants of health, dedicating resources to help people obtain stable housing, access transportation, and navigate benefits programs. Montefiore’s School Health Program is a model for the nation, providing comprehensive preventive, primary, behavioral, and dental care to more than 27,000 children – helping children spend more time in school and achieve their full potential. Montefiore has long been a national leader in providing accountable care, assuming responsibility for both the quality and cost of care for more than 350,000 New Yorkers. Montefiore conducts more than 14,000 health education visits annually, and sponsors more than 80 community-service programs, focusing on obesity prevention, disease management, economic development, and more.
Bronx Borough President’s Programs
The goal of #Not62 is to improve strategic health outcomes for Bronx residents by 2020, around positive health behaviors, access to clinical care, social/economic factors, and the physical environment. This initiative builds on two previous efforts: the Bronx CAN (Changing Attitudes Now) Health Initiative and the Bronx-wide Campaign to Reduce and Prevent Obesity.
#Not62 will bring together stakeholders from across multiple sectors within City government, the business community, healthcare providers and community-based/faith based organizations to address the determinants of health. In the next five years #Not62 will:
- Guide key decision makers with interests in the Bronx on ways to integrate a public health framework into existing work;
- Obtain pledges from all those who live, work, pray, and play in the Bronx, i.e. residents, schools, community and faith -based organizations, corporations, public agencies, etc. The #Not62 Pledge reads: “I (entity) pledge to live, work, play and pray in a manner that improves the overall health of Bronx County…”
The Bronx Changing Attitudes Now Initiative
Launched in 2011, the Bronx CAN Health Initiative brings together individuals, doctors and other health providers, places of worship, community gardens and community centers, schools, and civic-minded groups of all kinds to promote the types of behaviors that lead to healthy lifestyles. The goal of the Bronx CAN Health Initiative is to have all the members of our community, young and old alike, build healthier lives, free of ailments like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease. We will accomplish this together by using the natural and human resources right here in our communities, the best advice and care of our experts in the health care field, the healthy food providers among us, and the physical spaces that surround us.