NYSHealth pursues ambitious goals to improve the health of all New Yorkers, especially the most vulnerable. As we stay focused on larger goals to achieve widespread changes to health care policy and practice, we are continually motivated and inspired by the people and communities that the Foundation and our grantees are helping every day. Below are some of their stories:
East Harlem Bikes, Runs, and Walks Its Way to Better Health
Five-year-old Moa is an expert on Randall’s Island, having explored every corner of the park during weekly visits with his parents—biking over from their East Harlem neighborhood to the park via a vehicle-free pathway. Like Moa, many community members of East Harlem have limited access to outdoor physical activity in their neighborhood. For Moa, his parents, and other East Harlem residents, the ability to access Randall’s Island for fresh air and physical activity has been a boon. Learn more.
Mohammed Hussan is an Arabic-speaking refugee from Iraq; because of his Christian faith, he was jailed and beaten in his home country. He fled the Gulf War with his wife and two children and was housed in a temporary refugee camp in Jordan. Mohammed could never return to Iraq, and Jordanian authorities wouldn’t allow him to gain citizenship there. An intelligent, hardworking man who had worked as a carpenter in Iraq, Mohammed and his family arrived in Rochester in 2014, where they were able to access health care and rebuild their lives through an innovative program. Learn more.
Southern Tier Community Health Center simply did not have enough space. Situated between two poor counties—both federally designated health professional shortage areas—the clinic was stretched thin and could barely fit its providers, let alone serve its high-need population. Learn more.
Lori*, a mother of two, could not afford health insurance. Luckily, her children were able to qualify for low-cost health insurance—with the help of the North Country Children’s Clinic, she enrolled them in Child Health Plus, which helped pay for doctor’s visits, dental visits, and prescriptions. The North Country Children’s Clinic was a boon to the community. Unfortunately, it did not have the capacity to serve adults, and Lori’s only access to health services was through costly urgent care visits. Learn more.
Carol Rock, a senior citizen and a resident of the small rural town of Windsor, N.Y., had trouble with her balance and struggled with risk of falling. Elderly residents of Broome County had one of the highest rates of falls in New York State. Learn more.
Riley Elementary’s second-grade class faced an important choice: What snacks would they eat for their class Valentine’s Day Party? The class has been learning about nutrition and physical activity through Oswego County Health Department’s (OCHD) Healthy Highway program, which taught them about poor (red), cautionary (yellow), and good (green) food choices. Learn more.
Ana knew she wasn’t ready to become a mother, but was apprehensive about birth control because she had heard that it could harm her body and ability to have children. After meeting with a counselor at a health center that had received training to better provide contraceptive services, Ana decided on an effective method that left her feeling safe and reassured. Learn more.
Vulnerable Children Receive Vital Oral Health Services
Four-year-old Noah has a happy, healthy smile, thanks in part to the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Smiles Program, a pilot program that is connecting some of New York’s most vulnerable children to oral health services. Learn more.
In early 2011, students at Bronx elementary school P.S. 51 started reporting to the school nurse that they had headaches. Enviromental testing of the school site revealed dangerous levels of toxins, but the reports were too technical for community members to understand, and parents were left confused, fearing for their kids’ health and safety. New York Lawyers for the Public Interest worked with the parents and community of P.S. 51 to help them learn to navigate the complex school siting system and advocate for the information they need to ensure school buildings are safe, healthy learning environments. Learn more.
Having spent the majority of her adolescence on the streets and involved in the criminal justice system, Teisha battled depression and a growing sense of hopelessness at the age of 18. In an effort to establish some stability and support in her life, she rushed into a marriage with a man she met at a homeless shelter. The relationship turned abusive, however—forcing Teisha back onto the streets and into renewed encounters with the justice system. After one particular arrest, she was mandated to the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES), an innovative alternative sentencing program in New York City. Learn more.
Matt and Peggy Cannon own a dairy farm located just north of Albany, NY. The Cannons had managed to purchase their own health insurance for several years. They were looking for ways to cover their two full-time employees as well, but they worried it would be too expensive with rising insurance costs and the tight profit margins on their small farm. The Cannons and other small employers across New York State got help from the Small Business Assistance Program to understand their options and find affordable coverage. Learn more.
Between his part-time job at a retail pharmacy and his job as an after-school teacher, Jerome works every day of the week. Uninsured for years, he couldn’t afford to miss a day of work if he got sick or go to the doctor, even when it was necessary. With help from the Center for Frontline Retail, Jerome found out he was newly eligible for Medicaid under health reform in New York. View firsthand video accounts from newly insured New Yorkers who received enrollment assistance through the NYSHealth-supported Enrollment Network. Learn more.
For Andy*, a New York combat veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, chronic back pain was becoming so severe that he was frequently calling out sick from his job. Depression also was compounding his problems, causing him to withdraw from friends and family and lose motivation in his work. After seeking help from a program that connects veterans to a variety of supports and services, Andy was able to take the first steps in reclaiming his life. Learn more.
For children living with mental health conditions, finding and receiving timely treatment can be difficult. A new program on Long Island is working to better meet the needs of children with mental health issues and their families, including a 13-year-old girl who is finally getting the help she needs after years of struggling. Learn more.
Dr. Kevin Dooley uses a silver 2006 Volkswagen Jetta as his office. It’s not that Dooley, a family physician for more than 15 years, can’t find the office space in the Albany region—rather, his vehicle is what gets him to the homes of the 15–20 patients he sees each week through the Home Visiting Physicians program administered by St. Peter’s Health Partners Medical Associates (SPHPMA) and its affiliate, the Eddy Visiting Nurse Association (EVNA). Learn more.
A physician at Montefiore Medical Center, Dr. Rohit Bhalla strived to deliver superior care to his patients. When he and other health care providers had the opportunity to attain recognition from a national diabetes program, it was not only a chance to deliver excellent diabetes care and achieve good outcomes for patients, but also a way to transform a systemwide approach to care. Learn more.
Cheryl, 60-year-old grandmother, led a double life for years—as a respected secretary in the Office of the Mayor, and as a severe alcoholic whose addiction was fueled by undiagnosed mental illness. Cheryl eventually hit rock bottom—losing her job and her family, and ending up homeless and living on the streets. Cheryl went on to rebuild her life and reclaim her dignity after finally getting treatment for both her substance use and mental health issues at a clinic that had improved its delivery of care for clients struggling with both conditions. Learn more.
At the church where Emma Torres worshipped, 60% of her fellow congregants were identified as being at high risk for developing diabetes. She underwent training to become a community health worker (CHW) and deliver a diabetes prevention and self-management program at her church. Emma and other CHWs across the State are now teaching congregations how to make lifestyle changes to eat healthier, exercise more, and manage stress in order to improve their health and prevent diabetes and its complications. Learn more.
As one of the more than 4 million New Yorkers with prediabetes, Donald had suffered from a host of serious health problems, including high blood sugar and cholesterol levels. A diabetes prevention program offered by YMCAs across the State has helped Donald and other participants reduce their risk developing the disease by 50% and improve their health and wellbeing. Learn more.
A hotel agent at a Manhattan hotel, Alan was young, married, and in relatively good health until he was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. Although his employer accommodated for his illness, Alan was only able to work a day or two a week. As he struggled with his life-threatening disease, Alan fell behind on his rent and barely had money to buy food for the household. A program that offers free legal services to low-income New Yorkers helped Alan and his family get back on their feet. Learn more.
The owner of Akwaaba Bed and Breakfast since 1995, Monique Greenwood is committed to providing health care coverage for her employees, believing that the true mark of a successful small business owner is being able to offer health care benefits. Learn more.
Michael outwardly laughed off or ignored the teasing and bullying he endured at his Bronx high school for being overweight, but the psychological effects were damaging. A nutrition and fitness program to improve the health and self-esteem of overweight/obese youth in the Bronx has given new hope to Michael and other high school students and their families. Learn more.
Cecilia’s grandson Javier suffered from asthma and symptoms every night until the family got help from the Healthy Homes initiative of Make the Road New York. Learn more.