Institute Of Public Health Remains On The Front Lines Of Community Care
The Institute’s Centers Continue To Support Health Care Initiatives Aimed At Improving Quality Of Life For Present and Future Generations
Exciting things are happening in the Institute of Public Health. For years, the four centers of excellence housed in the Institute have been focused on high-priority public health issues for communities and the nation at large. The Center on Disability and Health (CDH) provides platforms for people with disabilities to share their experiences with the health care system. The Center for Disaster Medicine (CDM) finds new ways to improve emergency preparedness for a local school district. A funding increase, along with assistance from students in the School of Medicine (SOM), allows the Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC) to continue its mission of addressing health concerns that arise from environmental exposures.
Center on Disability and Health
CDH prioritizes enhancing the quality of care to patients with disabilities. On December 5, 2022, the center co-hosted with the Westchester Institute for Human Development (WIHD) the webinar, “A Dozen Ways to Enhance Quality of Care for Patients with Disabilities,” where disability self-advocates discussed their personal experiences with health care and offered advice to medical professionals on treating people with disabilities.
The four self-advocates presented 12 key points to consider when caring for individuals with disabilities.
- Patients with disabilities are knowledgeable patients, let them be part of the team.
- Patients with disabilities want to feel that they are in knowledgeable hands when they are receiving medical services.
- Maintaining good health requires a team approach.
- Talk to the patients with disabilities first, they are the patient. Engage the patient to the best of their abilities.
- Accessibility is more than ramps and handicapped bathrooms. People with disabilities need to feel comfortable in physical spaces.
- Patients with disabilities want to be in good health. Explain to them your treatment plan and consider how it would affect their quality of life.
- Being afraid of doctors is not a symptom of any disability.
- Patients with disabilities know what it is like to feel good in their bodies. Believe them when they tell you that they don’t feel well on medication.
- Patients with disabilities want to feel helpful in their medical journey. Remember to stop and let them know that they are going to be okay.
- Help people with disabilities be successful patients – be open to accommodations during appointments.
- Learn about an advocate’s support circle and how it can help them achieve good health.
- Listening to patients with disabilities is more than just hearing what they have to say. Make it your job to create a disability-friendly office.
Center for Disaster Medicine
The work done by the centers within the Institute of Public Health often prompts outside interest groups to come aboard to further advance the overall well-being of the surrounding communities. A prime example of this is the CDM’s new partnership with Yonkers Public Schools.
Routinely on the forefront of interdisciplinary research, training, technical assistance and emergency preparedness, CDM identified gaps in the school district’s ability to respond to mass shootings, opioid overdoses and mental health emergencies and shared knowledge of incident command and general approach emergency response for all hazards.
“The goal is to improve school preparedness and response to all emergencies with a specific emphasis on mass shootings, the opioid epidemic and mental health emergencies,” explained David S. Markenson, M.D., M.B.A., director and medical director of the CDM.
The partnership, launched in July 2022, aims to increase state funding and expand to other major school districts in New York State.
Children’s Environmental Health Center
Other centers within the Institute of Public Health have also worked tirelessly to receive state funding for their missions. The CEHC is an affiliate of the Children’s Environmental Health Center of the Hudson Valley (CEHCHV), which is a member of NYSCHECK, a network of environmental health centers across New York State. NYSCHECK recently doubled its funding with a five-year grant, allowing CEHCHV’s dedicated interprofessional team to spend more time preventing and addressing health concerns that arise from environmental exposures. In addition, CEHCHV will continue to expand its social determinants of health and environmental exposures screening programs.
The increased funding also grants CEHCHV faculty the opportunity to expand their educational efforts to a diverse background of interprofessional trainees that range from pre-health/science-focused high school students to students with post graduate health science and medical degrees.
The Institute of Public Health supports NYMC SOM students who currently work with CEHC and CEHCHV, while fulfilling their area of concentration in children’s environmental health. Sajana Sivagnanam, SOM Class of 2025, and Hunter Nash Glickman, SOM Class of 2025, worked on research projects, shadowed residents and attending physicians, as well as attended seminars on public health related to environmental exposures and impacts on children, ranging from heavy metal poisoning to atopic asthma and more.
For Ms. Sivagnanam, her time with CEHCHV has provided a network of like-minded individuals dedicated to improving public health practices for the pediatric community.
“I was able to work with other pre-medical and medical students and faculty from across New York State,” said Sivagnanam. “It was refreshing to not only be able to learn from their experiences and career paths, but to also be involved in discourse surrounding topics we were all passionate about. Public health is a vital component of primary care, so I feel better equipped to be able to have these discussions and take action when it comes to clinical practice.”
Mr. Glickman is dedicated to a career in pediatrics and when the opportunity with the CEHC presented itself, it seemed like a natural fit.
“Understanding the relationship between the environment and human health is critical to pediatrics and medicine in general,” said Glickman. “With the impacts of climate change and environmental injustice playing out before our eyes in all sorts of vulnerable communities, learning how to be a proactive physician on these topics is essential to becoming the doctor I aspire to be.”
The strides made by the centers in the Institute of Public Health reflect the progress of SHSP and NYMC as a whole. These Centers continue to draw upon the faculty expertise to remain on the front line of health care advancement.