On Friday, September 5, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., saluted the ongoing contributions of the health care labor unions to the Bronx in celebration of Labor Week and ahead of the 2014 NYC Labor Day Parade, which took place on Saturday, September 6h.

Since 2011, the Bronx Borough President’s Office has coordinated Bronx CAN Health initiatives to improve the public health of Bronxites.  CAN (Change Attitudes Now) works to help people eat healthier, engage in more physical activity and take charge of their own health, whenever possible through small, sustainable lifestyle changes.

“Labor is an integral part of the New Bronx we are building, and they are key allies.  With health care being the largest sector of employment for the Bronx, the health care unions are our work.  We salute them for their great work and celebrate our ongoing partnership,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Health care labor unions such as, the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR-SEIU), Doctor’s Council, and New York State Nurses as well as the New York City Central Labor Council have been great partners in this initiative and critical players to help improve public health in The Bronx.

For the last two years, the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR/SEIU Healthcare) has partnered with the Borough President on the Bronx Family Health Challenge (FHC). The FHC has been adopted by schools and youth programs to help students learn about healthy habits such as drinking more water and/or low-fat milk, eating more vegetables and fruit, getting more physical activity, exercising for 60 minutes a day, watching and monitoring serving sizes, eating whole grains, cooking healthy meals at home and celebrating healthier living.

“As physicians, we are always looking for ways we can address the root causes of illness, and we have forged new ground through the Family Health Challenge,” said CIR President Dr. David Eshak. “This is what being in a union means: standing up for healthy communities and meeting unmet needs.”

CIR engaged 39 internal medicine, pediatrics, and emergency medicine and family medicine residents in the 2013 Family Health Challenge pilot study conducted by Albert Einstein College of Medicine   These outstanding doctors went into schools to help implement an 8-week course for youth in Bronx schools, about 250 kids between the ages of 7 and 11.  The Family Health Challenge will continue this October at PS 83 in Morris Park and the Mary Mitchell Center in Crotona.

“NYSNA nurses are proud to unite with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr, the Committee of Interns and Residents, Doctors Council, and the New York City Central Labor council in supporting the Family Health Challenge,” said NYSNA President and Bronx nurse Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez. “Healthcare inequality hurts Bronx patients who too often must struggle to obtain access to care. By educating and empowering Bronx families through the Family Health Challenge, we can take steps toward addressing disparities in our community.”

“As doctors in New York City’s public hospitals, as well as in our schools, including several facilities and schools in the Bronx, we enthusiastically support efforts that will decrease health disparities and strengthen communities. We applaud and support Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz’s leadership on the Family Health Challenge which offers some terrific and important recommendations for staying healthy and active to individuals of all ages,” said Dr. Frank Proscia, President, Doctors Council SEIU. “Through the Family Health Challenge, education and prevention are key to keeping the patients and communities we serve healthy. We will encourage all of our patients in the Bronx to stay informed about healthy living choices – ranging from diet to exercise.”

“I commend CIR, Doctors Council and NYSNA for committing to stand with Bronx Borough President Diaz to improve the health and well-being of local residents.  Collaborations like this are crucial to ensuring residents in our communities have the tools needed to make healthier lifestyle changes.  I am confident that the Bronx CAN Health Initiative will go a long way to creating a healthier workforce and labor movement,” said  Vincent Alvarez, President, NYC Central Labor Council