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Office of Minority Health Funding Cuts

Office of Minority Health Funding Cuts

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Published by Aja
Opposing elimination of Office of Minority Health
Opposing elimination of Office of Minority Health

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Published by: Aja on Apr 23, 2012
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04/23/2012

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DISTRICT OFFICE 67 HANSON PLACE BROOKLYN, NY 11217 (718) 260-9191 FAX: (718) 260-9099 CITY HALL

OFFICE 250 BROADWAY, ROOM 1792 NEW YORK, NY 10007 (212) 788-7081 FAX: (212) 788-7712 ljames@ council.nyc.com

CHAIR
SANITATION & SOLID WASTE –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

COMMITTEES
CONTRACTS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT HOUSING & BUILDINGS PUBLIC HOUSING SMALL BUSINESS

THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK

LETITIA JAMES
COUNCIL MEMBER, 35TH DISTRICT

April 20, 2012

Commissioner Thomas A. Farley, M.D., MPH NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene 125 Worth Street New York, NY 10013 Commissioner Farley, I am writing in opposition to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s proposal to eliminate its Office of Minority Health. On March 19, 2012, Health Department Commissioner Thomas A. Farley M.D., M.P.H testified during preliminary budget hearings. During the hearings, Commissioner Farley recognized that budget cuts could lead to the elimination of the Office of Minority Health, and stated that the agency could serve minority communities through other programs. Commissioner Farley spoke about a system of front-line Health Department offices placed in the City’s poorest neighborhoods, and proposed utilizing a different approach to minority health programs. The City’s Health Department created the Office of Minority Health in 2004, to foster relationships with community groups, specifically faith-based organizations. The office’s goals included “link[ing] the faith community to needed health care services and other health resources” and “enlist[ing] the assistance of faith leadership in disseminating public health information.” In recent years, the office had four staffers and a budget of around $300,000; Yet an astonishing amount of work has been completed on a relatively small budget. In testimony to the Health Department, Cornell University’s Cooperative Extension called their relationship with the Office of Minority Health “one of the most effective and efficient collaborations [they] have,” and opposed the Department’s proposed $161,000 cut to the Office of Minority Health. They cited the following collaborations and results— Nutrition education to 600 Faith Based organizations this year; The “Walkers for Wellness” program that involved 200 Faith Based organizations in nutrition education and exercise projects; A “Food Hub” program to be launched this spring that will connect 2,000 upstate food producers with groups of Faith Based organizations who can buy fresh vegetables and fruit that will be trucked into the City at designated sites; Secured funding and a dramatic increase in medical service for the “Good Health Brooklyn” event that the program organizes annually; Secured the services of Doctors and Nurses (20) from Cornell Weill Medical College and Hunter School of Nursing to increase the level and amount of screening that takes place at “Health Fairs” in underserved communities. Those are phenomenal successes from a small office, and I am skeptical that eliminating this office would make a major difference in the budget of the Health Department. In fact, the federal and state governments

continue to maintain their minority health departments. Furthermore, it is clear that within New York City the health disparities within communities of color would warrant a continued department focused on these matters. Much like the proposal to discontinue STD education and testing programs based in New York City high schools—this is a bad idea introduced at the wrong time. I thank you ahead of time for your response. Thank You,

Letitia James Member of the City Council
LW/AWD

CC— Council Member Maria del Carmen Arroyo (Chair, NYC Council Committee on Health) Speaker Christine Quinn National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS

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