Mayor Eric Adams’ medical team is creating a program to strengthen wellness “in the neighborhood” – recruiting “health coaches” to work with residents in the city’s major public housing projects.
The Department of Health is accepting bids to fund the expansion of the Health Advocacy Partnership program at the New York City Housing Authority-managed Marcy Houses in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, Butler Houses in the Morrisania neighborhood of The Bronx and the Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City, Queens.
The program offers tenants screening and workshops to help them better manage chronic diseases such as asthma, high blood pressure and diabetes, and provides assistance with stress management and smoking cessation.
The program also addresses tenants’ mental health issues, including depression, health officials said.
In addition, health coaches will offer classes to improve nutrition, as well as ‘shape-up’ fitness classes, power walks and cycling groups.
The department, which has $2.95 million in grants available through its fundraising arm, the Fund for Public Health, is soliciting bids to hire three contractors to serve each of the NYCHA projects.
The health coaching program was initially launched on a pilot basis in the NYCHA housing complexes in Harlem and East Harlem under former Mayor Bill de Blasio, and initial findings there warrant replication elsewhere, the department said.
Among the Harlem findings:
- Participants who self-reported good to excellent general health increased by 40%, from 55% to 78%.
- Among diabetes patients, the rate of self-reported controlled diabetes increased by 46%, from 50% to 77%.
- Among participants with hypertension, the number with controlled blood pressure increased by 19%, from 60% to 71%.
- The number of residents who screened positive for moderate, moderately severe or severe depression decreased by 40%, from 15% to 9%.
“Connecting with New Yorkers in their own communities is a proven way to work together to manage chronic health conditions. The addition of community health workers in other communities will build on the results we are already seeing in Harlem, including improved overall health of participants increasing from 55% to 78% and major depression decreasing from 15% to 9%,” it said Ministry of Health in a report. rack.
“Public health must be part of the social fabric of neighborhood life. This program does just that, and it works.”
Each health coaching program – which will run from at least January to June next year – must have a minimum of thirteen full-time workers, one full-time manager, two full-time supervisors and ten community workers.
The program is part of the department’s mission to improve medical and wellness outcomes in neighborhoods identified as most affected by COVID-19 in 2020 and that also suffer from higher rates of other socioeconomic disparities – including many residents of social housing.
In its request for proposals, the department emphasized that the health coaching program builds on its work “to eliminate health inequities, which are rooted in historical and contemporary injustice and discrimination, including racism.”
“New York City’s health and social services sectors have stepped up to improve the health of the most vulnerable populations. However, these systems are not designed to be equitable or meet the complex needs of communities suffering from historical and contemporary injustices, such as poverty, racially segregated housing, disinvestment, and discrimination,” the department said.
Unaddressed medical problems among low-income and minority residents also lead to higher costs for the public due to an “excessive number of avoidable emergency room visits and hospitalizations.”
“Health coaching has enabled NYCHA residents (including some with low literacy or English proficiency) to gain the knowledge and skills to better manage their chronic illness and support greater access to health care-related services to which they are entitled,” the statement said. department. .
Health coaching sessions were provided to more than 1,150 residents of NYCHA apartments in Harlem, reaching more than 10% of the Department of Health’s target population.
“The community outreach has successfully raised and addressed issues such as food security, public safety, home repairs, etc., which often pose significant barriers to NYCHA residents struggling to manage chronic diseases. To date, more than 5,000 NYCHA residents have been involved in group wellness and advocacy activities since the program’s inception in 2015,” the department said.
Under the program, blood pressure will be monitored at least twice a month at NYCHA Senior Centers/Community Centers and will include screening for diabetes, hypertension and asthma.
Health coaches are required to enroll a minimum of 150 to 200 residents in each of the NYCHA complexes in Queens, Brooklyn and The Bronx.
Coaches are also asked to provide farmers market tours and sign up for the department’s “Health Bucks” project to encourage tenants to purchase and consume more fresh fruits and vegetables.
The wellness campaign closely follows the Department of Health’s recent launch of a $4 million vaccine equity campaign aimed at reducing infections and deaths from the latest coronavirus variants and the flu, mainly in the city’s poorer communities .