The People's Money (2022-2023)
Your Money, Your Community, Your Voice.
Mobile Health Clinics in West Harlem
What problem would you like to solve?
The lack of access to adequate healthcare in the West Harlem community.
Why is it important to solve? Why is it relevant for the community?
According to a New York City community health profile on the Morningside Heights and Hamilton Heights community that was published in 2020, there are a number of important public health related issues that persist in this region of Manhattan. The data from this profile shows that 11% of adults in this area are uninsured, and 10% report going without needed medical care in the past 12 months. Furthermore, there were 1,345 avoidable hospitalizations among adults in 2014 (pre-covid), while the average avoidable hospitalizations for each of the community health profile neighborhoods was approximately a quarter less. Avoidable hospitalizations are those that could have been prevented if the patients had access to primary care, meaning they are often a result of undiagnosed diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, among other health issues that are often detected by primary care physicians before they can progress to the point of hospitalization. It is important to note that this area has a higher low income population relative to other community districts. Furthermore, 34% of teens between the ages of 13 and 17 had not received their HPV vaccinations, which prevents major cancers such as cervical cancer, and this area also has approximately five times the rates of obesity, diabetes, and hypertension in comparison to wealthy, predominantly white areas that have the lowest rates including the Financial District and Greenwich Village-Soho.
What idea do you have to address the problem?
I propose that NYC invest in mobile health clinics around Morningside Heights and Hamilton Heights. While these are available through funding from private hospitalizations such as Mount Sinai in Morningside Heights near the Columbia University Area, they are sparse in more residential low-income areas further north in Hamilton Heights. If private hospitals are not willing to invest in these communities, the city should do so. Essentially, these mobile health vehicles would be equipped with all medical equipment necessary for conducting health screenings that are normally administered by primary care physicians, along with vials of important immunization shots including HPV, flu, and COVID-19 shots. The vehicles would be stationed in different parts of these communities each day in rotation, allowing people in multiple neighborhoods to have access to their services. Patients would not be asked for any health insurance or any form of documentation, but would simply have to sign consent forms for themselves and/or their children in order to be screened. Medical personnel who speak multiple languages, especially Spanish since this area has a high Spanish-speaking population, would be hired to work in these mobile health clinics in order to accommodate non-English speaking patients. Efforts would be made to hire and train volunteers from the community as well in order to sustain the program in the long term. Investing approximately $80,000 into six mobile health vehicles that would travel through these communities would allow community members who do not normally have access to primary healthcare receive screenings and become aware of any underlying health issues they may have. This can be transformative for the overall health infrastructure and health outcomes of this area.
Who would that help?
Underserved community members who lack access to healthcare, especially primary care, due to reasons such as not being enrolled in health insurance, being undocumented, or simply not having the time to schedule appointments due to work and family life. Houseless individuals in the area could also greatly benefit, as they often do not have access to healthcare.
What NYC borough would benefit from your idea?
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