"Public health is purchasable. Within natural limitations, a community can determine its own death rate."
- Hermann M. Biggs, NYC Department of Health, 1914
The NYC Health Department is one of the best and most trusted municipal health departments in the world. The last decade in NYC has been marked by some of the most innovative times for the Health Department and the groundbreaking work that has been done has resulted in clear wins. Smoking by adults fell 27%, between 2002 and 2011, representing 350,000 fewer adult smokers, and smoking by public high school students fell 52%
New Yorkers are living longer than ever before. However, despite these successes, public health problems persist, particularly for the most vulnerable New Yorkers:
The Fund for Public Health in New York plays a crucial role in addressing these public health problems as it turns innovative thinking at the Health Department into action. By forming partnerships with foundations, philanthropists, and businesses, the Fund cultivates investors who understand the role of public health in shaping our communities, our environment, and our future.
In eight years of operations, over $250 million has been raised - $30 million of it from the private sector - to pilot, promote and expand NYC Health Department priority projects. Currently, the Fund manages over $100 million for Health Department priority projects with core staff providing expertise in contract and grant administration, financial management, business development, fundraising and human resources management.
Investment in this public-private partnership powers the achievement of transformational results that are scalable here in New York City and across the country. National and global public health leaders look to New York City for big ideas. The support the Fund provides to the Health Department helps to find and implement some of the biggest public health ideas of this century and has provided the Health Department with an ever-greater capacity to innovate.
Preventing Obesity: The CDC announcement of Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) grant funding, supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, challenged public health departments across the country to think creatively, test the most promising prevention strategies based on the best evidence, and challenge policies that have been standing in the way of better health outcomes.
Preparing thousands or millions of meals for school children each week is no easy task. Many school districts struggle to provide cost-effective foods that are healthy, tasty, and possible to prepare in large quantities. In New York City, collaboration between the Departments of Health and Education has resulted in several recent improvements in school food, including the replacement of full fat milk with non- or low-fat milk in over 860,000 meals daily, installation of water jets and salad bars in hundreds of cafeterias, and implementation of the NYC Agency Food Standards.
NYC was well positioned to embrace this opportunity because of its partnership with the Fund. The Fund administers over $35 million in CPPW funding for the NYC Health Department to continue its cutting edge prevention work. The Fund mobilized grant start-up activities quickly, adding 68 staff and issuing 150 contracts in the first 6 months of the program.
School-Based Health Center Reproductive Health Project: Every year, almost 22,000 teens become pregnant in New York City. The vast majority - 87% - of these pregnancies are unintended. Annually, thousands of teens, mostly from disadvantaged backgrounds, face difficult decisions related to their sexual and reproductive health, including whether to have sex, how or whether to use birth control and condoms, how to access clinical services, and whether to become a parent. Teens who become mothers tend to come from economically disadvantaged environments that severely limit their education and job prospects. As teens transition to adulthood, having the skills to avoid unintended pregnancy will serve them in other areas of their lives, equipping them with what they need to avoid sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and to make other decisions to assure a healthy future.
Reaching teens where they spend their time - in school - is a key place the NYC Health Department has focused its efforts to improve the quality of and access to reproductive health education and services. A major success story from this work is the School-Based Health Center Reproductive Health Project.
The Health Department designed a pioneering program at 39 School-Based Health Centers in NYC public high schools to improve access to quality health care. The centers reach 64,000 public high school students and are operated primarily by the city's public hospitals and community-based health centers. Today it operates nine SBHCs aiming to improve student health, well-being and school-performance.
The result: delivery of reproductive health services has been transformed. From updated operational systems and improved physical infrastructure of health centers to health care provider education and training, the centers are now providing state-of-the-art services that include screening for HIV and STIs, pregnancy testing, and contraceptive dispensing onsite for sexually active teens. This initiative has also raised awareness of and increased access to Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (IUDs and Implanon) as safe and effective contraceptive options for most teens. More teens are being seen, referring their friends, receiving birth control, having STIs treated, and fewer are getting pregnant. SBHC staff received training and technical assistance and routinely share best practices with others among their staff.
The Fund was side-by-side with Health Department experts in the reproductive health field as they set out to think of new ways to address the persistent problem of teen pregnancy. With a coalition of partners from universities, hospitals, city agencies and non-profit organizations, big ideas that focused on solving problems could be built. The Fund assisted these thought leaders at every stage of the project, from project design to fundraising to full-scale implementation. The blend of advocacy and support from the public sector and the resources and pace of the private sector aligned perfectly in this successful public-private partnership.
For more information about how you can support FPHNY and the work of the NYC Health Department contact:
Sara W. Gardner, MPH
Fund for Public Health in New York, Inc.
22 Cortlandt Street, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10007
Phone: (646) 710-4860