Place Based Approaches to Health Disparities Learning Collaborative

DASHNY Clinical and Community Linkages, Environment, HOMEPAGE LATEST NEWS, Prevent Chronic Disease 0 Comments

By Amanda Li, B.A., Junior Policy Associate

Did you know:

  • That African Americans represent 43% of New York State’s AIDS cases, even though they make up only 14% of New York’s total population?
  • That Asian Americans are three times more likely to have liver cancer than non-Hispanic Whites?
  • That over a third of Hispanics in the country do not have health insurance?
  • That people living in the more rural parts of New York are more likely to suffer from a chronic illness?
  • That people of lower socio-economic status are more likely to experience poor health outcomes because of factors like living in environmentally poor conditions?

Health disparities are undeniably a major issue that our country and our state face. Not only do health disparities negatively impact the health and well-being of people who face them, but they also lead to unnecessary costs and hinder healthcare improvements for the population at large. With over 40% of New York belonging to a racial or ethnic group, and the population becoming increasingly more diverse, health disparities present an issue that cannot be ignored. Fortunately, one of the goals of New York State’s Prevention Agenda 2013-2018 is “to reduce health disparities for racial, ethnic, disability, and low socioeconomic groups, as well as other populations who experience them.

How can you or your organization help address the health disparities in your community? Please join the Advancing Prevention Project on April 24, 2017 from 1:30-3:00 pm for our Place Based Approaches to Health Disparities Kick-Off Webinar to find out more. During this webinar, you will not only learn about health disparities in the context of New York State and our Prevention Agenda, but you will also hear from experts about how to leverage place-based approaches to address health disparities. Place-based approaches involve creating environments that are health-promoting, like parks, safe places for walking and biking, well-maintained homes, environmental protection, and grocery stores that sell healthy, affordable food. There is currently growing momentum around the idea that place-based approaches are required to address health disparities and build healthy, equitable communities.

We hope that the kick-off webinar will serve as an effective starting point for a productive learning collaborative around this issue, where participants have the opportunity to discuss, share, and partner with others across New York State to promote place-based initiatives and reduce health disparities in our communities.

Our expert speakers who will be presenting on this webinar include:

  • Margaret Casey, RN, MPH, Director, Bureau of Community Chronic Disease Prevention, New York State Department of Health
  • Kristen Pergolino, Deputy Director, Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Prevention, New York State Department of Health
  • Harrison Moss, MPH, Director, State Partnership Initiative, New York State Department of Health
  • Jamie Konkoski, Program Manager, North Country Healthy Heart Network
  • Marie Dynes, LCSWR, Coordinator, Prevention Services, Dutchess County Department of Behavioral and Community Health
  • Kathy Mogle, MS, Program Coordinator, Onondaga Health Department

The panel will be moderated by Kimberly Libman, PhD, MPH, director of the Prevention and Community Development team at The New York Academy of Medicine.

Please register here by April 23, 2017 if you are interested in attending! We look forward to seeing you on April 24th.

A 750 Mile Plan to Safer Cycling and Better Health

DASHNY Active Communities, Economic and Community Development, Environment, HOMEPAGE LATEST NEWS, Prevent Chronic Disease 1 Comment

By Amanda Li, B.A., Junior Policy Associate

Increasing cardiovascular health, building muscle strength, enhancing flexibility, promoting joint mobility, reducing stress and anxiety…this is by no means an exhaustive list but gives you an idea of the health benefits that come with cycling. Cycling is a cheap, fun, and low-impact form of exercise that people of all ages can enjoy to stay physically active. When used as an alternative mode of transportation, it is also beneficial to our environment.

Although cycling is great for both our health and our environment, without Complete Streets and safe places to bike on, cycling can be dangerous. In 2014, in New York State alone, there was a total of 5,827 bicycle/motor vehicle accidents, 47 of which were fatal. We need a safer way to allow New Yorkers to enjoy the many benefits of cycling.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s 750 mile long Empire State Trail might be the solution we are looking for. Back in January 2017, Cuomo proposed that the Erie Canalway and Hudson River Valley Greenway trails be completed by 2020 to form the Empire State Trail. Once completed, this will be the nation’s longest statewide multiuse trail, with one part running from Manhattan Battery up into Canada along the Hudson River Valley, and the other part running between Albany and Buffalo along the Erie Canalway Trail. In order to complete and connect the Erie Canalway and Hudson River Valley trails into a 750 mile long trail, 350 miles of additional trails will need to be constructed to fill in any gaps and form the long stretches of the Empire State Trail.

With 70 percent of the Empire State Trail located off the roads, it gives cyclists, hikers, and runners alike the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful scenes of nature while on the move, without the stress of vehicles and traffic. The health benefits of providing people across the state of New York with a safe and accessible way of staying active outdoors by creating the Empire State Trail are undeniable. According to Rose Harvey, commissioner of the state’s parks, studies show that adolescents who cycle have a 48% less chance of being overweight, and with each dollar devoted to developing trails, there results in $3 worth of savings in medical expenses. With Cuomo proposing to spend around $200 million on the Empire State Trail, New York State could be saving a potential $600 million in medical expenses.

DASH-NY sees this as a huge step towards making New York a better connected, more active, and healthier state.

A Telephone Survey Reveals Important Findings About Obesity in New York State

DASHNY HOMEPAGE LATEST NEWS, Prevent Chronic Disease 0 Comments

By Amanda Li, B.A., Junior Policy Associate

An annual telephone survey administered statewide by the New York State Department of Health showed the following key findings:

  • 25% of adults in the state are obese.
  • An additional 34.5% of the state’s adults are overweight.
  • Obesity rates are the highest among adults who are black (30.9%), Hispanic (29.3%), earn household income below $50,000 a year (28.9%), do not have a college degree (28.6%), have a disability (37.2%), and who live outside of the city (26.9%).

This survey is conducted under the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), which helps gather data on the risk factors, behaviors, and use of prevention-based services associated with the major causes of disease, injury, disability and death across the adult civilian population.  Unfortunately, obesity is now ranked as the #2 cause of preventable mortality in America, just barely behind tobacco. This is because obesity is associated with life-threatening conditions like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, cancers, stroke, and arthritis.

Recognizing the strong association between obesity and chronic diseases, New York State’s Prevention Agenda 2013-2018 has made reducing obesity in both adults and children a priority. One goal the state hopes to achieve is to “Create community environments that promote and support healthy food and beverage choices and physical activity.”

DASH-NY hopes to leverage its 2017 policy priorities to help achieve this goal by:

  • Increasing access to healthy food for all through the investment of $15 million in the Healthy Food and Healthy Communities Fund and $3 million in the Healthy Corner Store Initiative.
  • Supporting “Safe Routes to All” by creating policies and funding opportunities that promote safe, accessible routes to valuable community resources.
  • Promoting policies mandating that food and beverages bought using government funds meet nutrition standards.
  • Advocating for the shared use of school facilities.

Additionally, the Advancing Prevention Project also aims to achieve this goal by:

According to the New York State Prevention Agenda Dashboard and BRFSS survey data, we have not yet met any of our 2018 Prevention Agenda goals around reducing obesity. However, let’s use this data as motivation to continue pushing the needle on reducing obesity in New York State.


Amidst the Closing of Supermarkets, a Bill Provides Hope

DASHNY Advocacy & Policy, Food Policy, HOMEPAGE LATEST NEWS, Prevent Chronic Disease 0 Comments

By Amanda Li, B.A., Junior Policy Associate

In September 2016, Promoting Prevention published a blog post about the closing of City Fresh, a local supermarket in East Harlem. Just a few weeks later, Promoting Prevention published yet another blog post that touched upon the widespread closing of supermarkets throughout New York City. By providing access to fresh, affordable produce, supermarkets play such an important role in preventing chronic disease and promoting community health. Therefore, the closing of supermarkets throughout our New York communities is an issue that Promoting Prevention takes very seriously.

This is why Promoting Prevention sees potential in Local Law Int 1472-2017: Exempting certain grocery stores from the commercial rent tax. This bill, sponsored by Corey D. Johnson, Margaret S. Chin, and Stephen T. Levin, would grant commercial rent tax exemptions to affordable supermarkets. According to Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer, the city’s commercial rent tax “puts an unfair, regressive burden on businesses in some of the city’s most expensive neighborhoods, where there is immense upward pressure on commercial storefront rents.” Under this bill, grocery stores that are affordable, accept SNAP benefits, and have retail space totaling over 3,500 square feet, would be eligible for a commercial rent tax exemption. Moreover, this bill requires that at least 500 square feet of retail space be dedicated exclusively to selling fresh produce. This bill not only prevents more grocery stores from closing down, but it would also encourage healthier retail practices.

Promoting the accessibility and affordability of fresh, healthy produce is very important to Promoting Prevention. We support this bill and look forward to seeing where it will take us.

The Future of Mental Health is Unclear

DASHNY Advocacy & Policy, HOMEPAGE LATEST NEWS, Prevent Substance Abuse, Promote Mental Health 0 Comments

By Amanda Li, B.A., Junior Policy Associate

Mental disorders and substance abuse have widespread, disabling burdens on our health and communities. Over 20% of people in New York suffer from mental illness-related symptoms every year, and 1 in every 10 people experience symptoms severe enough to hinder their day-to-day functioning. Moreover, across New York State, nearly 2 million people are undergoing substance abuse issues. Mental illness and substance abuse can have detrimental effects on a person’s health and wellbeing, increasing risks across multiple dimensions including unemployment, school failure, homelessness, and even mortality—opioid overdoses alone are responsible for 33,091 deaths in the U.S. during 2015.

Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA), mental health and substance abuse-related services were extremely underfunded. Along with the stigma associated with mental disorders and drug use, limitations on insurance coverage also served as a barrier to getting needed care. Not only did the ACA greatly expand healthcare coverage as a whole, but it also provided a significant expansion of coverage for mental health and substance abuse. Under the ACA, insurance plans are required to cover services related to mental health and substance abuse, as well as services for habilitation and rehabilitation that assist people who suffer from behavioral health issues. Additionally, a majority of health insurance plans now provide coverage for preventive services, including depression screenings and behavioral assessments, as a result of the ACA. Overall, the ACA has expanded benefits for mental health and substance abuse to 62 million people in the U.S.

Unfortunately, we are currently at risk of losing the ACA. A repeal of the law would not only potentially deprive 20 million people of health insurance, but it could also dissipate the newfound coverage for mental health under the law. It could leave millions of people having to choose between feeding themselves or getting necessary mental health care.

The Advancing Prevention Project recognizes the severe health implications of mental illness and drug use, and the need to effectively address them. During this time when the future of healthcare in America is unclear, it is important that we speak up and advocate for the crucial services that the ACA provides for our health and for the wellbeing of our communities.