PHC is a new, innovative effort to expand the public health workforce, strengthen community health infrastructure, and promote health equity for the communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Health Department and NYC Health + Hospitals will lead the initiative.
“COVID-19 hit our most vulnerable communities the hardest,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “As we recover and move forward as a city, we’re going to ensure all New Yorkers have access to health care, especially in the neighborhoods most impacted by this crisis. Today is a monumental step towards universal health care in New York City.”
“In New York City, community health workers have been essential to our COVID-19 response,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi. “The vision of the Public Health Corps is rooted in this model, taking advantage of our once-in-a-generation opportunity to reimagine public health and redress inequities. The NYC Public Health Corps will not only have immediate impact for a just recovery from COVID-19—it will also be a bulwark against future emergencies and a leap forward for community health in the times in between.”
“As the City continues to recover from the pandemic, we have an opportunity to rebuild our healthcare system to make New York City stronger and healthier than ever before,” said NYC Test & Trace Corps Executive Director and Senior Vice President for Ambulatory Care at NYC Health + Hospitals Dr. Ted Long. “Drawing from our contact tracers who have been working with the communities where they live for the past year and know their communities well, we are building a new team of community health workers who will become a part of our healthcare system to extend the care that we offer patients beyond the four walls of our clinics. We are acutely aware of the historical disparities among communities and populations that all came to a head during this pandemic. Our Public Health Corps will prioritize health equity in these communities, with our new community health workers being a foundational and permanent pillar of our public healthcare system.”
“The Public Health Corps is a step towards repair and healing, grounded in principles of health equity, for New Yorkers most-impacted by COVID-19,” said Deputy Commissioner for the Center for Health Equity and Community Wellness and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michelle Morse. “Working hand-in-hand with communities, we will build a stronger, healthier city together.”
“Overall, strong health often requires a personalized combination of physical, mental, and community services, all of which our Public Health Corps workforce is prepared to help New Yorkers access,” said Chief Population Health Officer at NYC Health + Hospitals Dr. Nichola Davis. “This approach, coupled with our focus on culturally competent, community-based outreach will ensure we’re not only connecting with a maximum number of New Yorkers, but also connecting them to the care and services needed to live a healthy and full life.”
PHC initiatives target a broad spectrum of public health needs—from helping people get vaccinated to counseling residents about diabetes and depression. But each initiative shares a common goal: promoting the health of New Yorkers.
Building on the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, the PHC will strengthen community health across NYC by empowering a knowledgeable workforce that has the trust of the residents they serve, in part because they often come from the same neighborhood.
Collaboration between Health + Hospitals and the Health Department—clinicians and public health working together—is also key to the initiative’s success and distinguishes New York City in its ability to integrate this important workforce.
The PHC will include 100 community-based organizations, including those already working with the City on vaccine education and outreach through the T2CBO program and the COVID-19 Vaccine Partner Engagement Project in partnership with the Fund for Public Health in NYC.
New initiatives under the PHC will include:
- COVID-19 Disparities Initiative—Gives grants to CBOs to build Community Health Worker (CHW) teams with lived experience in the communities they serve to increase access to COVID-19 prevention, treatment and vaccination services and address social needs of neighborhoods who have been most impacted by the pandemic.
- COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence Educators—Educators address goal of improving vaccine confidence among residents and staff at Department of Homeless Services congregate facilities.
- Expanded Access to Care—Funds FQHCs to increase access to primary care services and COVID-19 vaccinations in communities with less healthcare infrastructure.
- Community Health Worker Training and Apprenticeship—Vaccine for All Corps members will be trained in a partnership with CUNY, Department of Small Business Services and multiple community-based organizations to become CHWs.
- Assisting Patients to Meet Health Goals—Over 200 CHWs will be based in NYC Health + Hospitals out-patient clinical sites to provide quality healthcare for patients – care that will extend into NYC communities to address patients’ social needs, like food, income, housing, that are essential to achieving health and well-being.
Individuals will be placed across community-based organizations, FQHCs, the Health Department and NYC Health + Hospitals. The initiatives will be supported by over 500 CHWs by December.
Staff will serve 20 priority neighborhoods, and some will have borough-wide and city-wide focus. $235 million will support PHC activities, including a two-year $35 million grant from the CDC.
Photo credit: NYC Gov.