PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. -- In an effort to help educators, social workers and public health professionals better understand the complex healthcare landscape in America today, Pace University recently hosted Primary Health Care Conference: Striving for a “Culture of Health”, which brought regional and national leaders to address community health issues.
Dr. Mary Bassett, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene,stressed how society cannot have health equity unless it addresses racial and economic injustice. She noted that health disparities have a great deal to do with poor and segregated neighborhoods, and explains how these differences affect everyone. “Segregation hurts all of us –not just in the form of hurt feelings, but hurt that is written on people’s bodies,” she said.
Ruben Diaz Jr., Bronx Borough President, spoke of progress that has been made to address health issues in the Bronx, but noted more can be done. Diaz talked about “food deserts,” neighborhoods where residents have no easy access to nutritious food. He shared efforts to improve access to healthful foods by having salad bars in Bronx high schools and farmers’ markets that accept SNAP/EBT.
Addressing the blurring of lines between primary health care, prevention, medical care, public health, and health care, Michael Myers, Managing Director of The Rockefeller Foundation, says he is noticing a change in healthcare emerging countries. Using the example of a community health worker in Liberia who noticed a cough among local children, Myers noted that through communication and awareness, outbreak can be contained. In this case, the cough turned out to be highly-treatable pertussis, not an Ebola outbreak. "These lines can be an impediment to creating a culture of health,” he said.
Other panelists included Carmen Farina, New York City Schools Chancellor; Dr. Philip Landrigan, Dean for Global Health, Professor of Preventive Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics at Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai; and Andrea Mata, Senior Manager for Community Health Initiatives with the New York City Housing Authority.
The conference was a signature event of the 50th anniversary of the Lienhard School of Nursing in the College of Health Professions at Pace.
Photo: Michael Myers, Managing Director, Rockefeller Foundation; Dr. Harriet R. Feldman, Dean and Professor, College of Health Professions and Lienhard School of Nursing; Robert Guimento, Senior VP and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital and Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Commissioner of Health of New York City.