Workshops and learning materials from The Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Conference, “Beyond the Comfort Zone: Understanding and Eradicating Injustice, Racism and Inequality in the Field of Developmental Disabilities,” co-presented by AHRC Nassau and The Arc of the United States, will remain available through May 2023 to increase education and advocacy of issues at the intersection of disability and race. This article was shared by conference partner, Northwell Health. For additional resources, visit ahrc.org/deiconference.
Northwell emerged as a national leader addressing the disproportionate impact of COVID on vulnerable communities of color, leveraging its vast network and strong emergency response capabilities, deploying testing and vaccinations in ALL the communities we serve. Northwell’s innovative model combines strong partnerships, large-scale mobilization of resources, innovative technology, and grassroots distribution of educational material. Since the pandemic’s start in 2020, Northwell has treated more than 352,000 inpatient and ambulatory COVID patients and administered 150,000+ COVID tests and 480,000+ COVID vaccinations in partnership with more than 100 community, faith-based, Tribal and county state representative partners at 1,157+ locations.
The pandemic disproportionately impacted low-income communities of color in the NYC metro area we serve in terms of COVID positivity rates, hospitalizations, and deaths. These communities, already vulnerable to poor health outcomes, were more likely to contract COVID because their personal circumstances increase the risk of exposure (working on the front lines, living in high density housing, having pre-existing health conditions, etc.).
To urgently meet the unprecedented testing demand, Northwell partnered with community, faith, tribal and government leaders to deploy testing in underserved areas lacking access to healthcare and suffering from social determinants of health, to drastically reduce COVID rates. These early pandemic partnerships informed the development of Northwell’s vaccination strategy.
In December 2020, Northwell was designated by NY’s governor as the Regional Vaccine HUB for Long Island. As a part of this designation, a Health Equity Taskforce (HET), comprised of 100+ key community members, was formed with goals of providing education, reducing vaccine hesitancy and increasing vaccinations. Culturally competent posters, brochures, videos, and other resources were developed, and widely distributed in multiple languages, leveraging the HET’s expertise and networks. A data-driven, community prioritization methodology was developed and in partnership with the HET, vaccines were made available in the hardest-hit communities, resulting in some of the highest vaccination rates in communities of color in the nation.
The pandemic illuminated and exacerbated long-standing socioeconomic disparities among our vulnerable communities. Northwell’s collaborative efforts with trusted institutions were key to our ability to help our vulnerable communities come back stronger post-COVID. Other health disparities will be addressed using the playbook developed for our COVID work, leveraging our strong relationships in the community and addressing the most pressing self-defined community needs to help sustainably raise health for ALL!
Additionally, using the Health Equity Taskforce community partnership model, Northwell has newly established the Northwell Community Health Alliance (CHA) to help provide guidance and oversight of our post-pandemic work on other disparities across all our service areas including NYC and Westchester. The 30+ member CHA is also comprised of community, faith-based, tribal, & county leaders representing New York, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk County. The inaugural CHA meeting was convened on June 29th.
These efforts will focus on addressing other critical areas identified at the outset of our COVID work and through our Community Health Needs Assessment that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, including: mental health, food insecurity, youth programming, employment, diabetes and obesity. Further sustainability of our efforts will be facilitated by our strong community partnerships and their guidance in helping us to collaboratively deliver better and equitable healthcare for all in the communities we serve. Additionally, we will utilize outcomes metrics to measure our success and identify opportunities for improvement and programmatic expansion.
Nassau County Behavioral Health Resource List
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