On a crisp February morning, FPHNYC partnered with the Robin Hood Foundation to bring together some of our philanthropic partners to meet the new Commissioner of Health, Dr. Oxiris Barbot. The Commissioner spoke about her own personal experiences that drove her to public health, and outlined her vision for a healthier New York City during her tenure. She also shared her “key strategies” for the Health Department work, and emphasized an ongoing commitment to promoting health equity and community empowerment. Here are three of our main takeaways:
1. Dr. Barbot’s vision for NYC is a city where everyone can realize their full potential regardless of who they are or where they live. She emphasized her key strategies, which include continuing to promote health equity with an added focus on immigrant health, centering communities, infusing mental health into public health practice, bridging public health and healthcare delivery, and ending epidemics like obesity and hypertension.
2. The Health Department will address these strategies with a range of activities or “tactics,” including expanding and streamlining home visiting programs that improve the health and welfare of mothers and babies; leveraging the arts to promote mental health and social cohesion; developing a trauma-informed framework across all domains; focusing on the intersection of housing and health; and addressing each epidemic with innovative approaches.
3. Public-private partnerships remain essential. Grants and donations have helped raise awareness of key issues, test innovative projects that can be scaled into citywide initiatives, and change public policy on challenges such as smoking and food standards. As the city moves into a tighter budgetary period, private support will only become more critical for the Health Department’s ability to innovate and maintain its status as a model department nationally and internationally. By connecting private funders with city government, FPHNYC amplifies the Department of Health’s work to ensure all New Yorkers have the chance for a healthy life.
As public health professionals, it’s easy to sometimes get caught in the details of our day to day work. But when we take a step back and consider the individuals whose lives are changed because of improved access to prenatal care, rapid treatment for HIV, or information about a diet to control diabetes, we are reminded even more that this work is essential to making our city great. We continue to be inspired by the Commissioner of Health and her vision, and look forward to working with her to achieve a healthier NYC for all.
To learn more about how you can support emerging innovations in public health, please contact Aviva Goldstein at [email protected].