INITIATIVES / WELLNESS
A Message from the Borough President
As Borough President, I have made it a priority of my administration to address the many health issues affecting our borough: from chronic obesity to smoking to diabetes and unacceptably high rates of heart disease. While some things are beyond our control, many dangerous behaviors are well within our capacity for change, and we owe it to ourselves and our families to take the steps necessary to live longer, happier and healthier lives.
The decision to maintain a healthy lifestyle comes from within. As a public servant, I can make information available to you, but only you can decide to take the steps necessary to change your life for the better.
Collaborations & Partnerships to Change the Health of Staten Islanders
The Borough President’s Office facilitates several working groups that have identified areas for improvement in terms of the health of our community – from obesity, to asthma to substance abuse and more. For the first time, Staten Island – thanks to these partnerships and linkages made by the office – has a real plan to get healthier and perhaps more importantly, to intervene and get educated on the things that have kept our residents chronically ill for so long.
In addition, Dr. Mantello has identified holes in accessibility on an array of healthcare issues and has been able to work to close those gaps by making introductions and ushering providers to attain additional programs and work together, tightening the fabric of our healthcare network.
Read on for initiatives and issues we are tackling every day.
Improving Outcomes for Children, Families
As you know, this is the first administration to embrace health and wellness as part of its formal agenda. BP Oddo and Ginny Mantello, MD, Director of Health and Wellness, have been working hard to not only make connections in the community to enhance services across the continuum of care, but to identify areas that need immediate action and set innovative programs in place.
One of the areas of critical need is child wellness, which necessitates working with schools, Community Based Organizations, health care providers, and families for quantifiable results. Of particular note are child asthma, obesity and mental health.
The BP’s office - in conjunction with Richmond University Med Center and the Staten Island PPS - has implemented a borough-wide asthma coalition that includes incorporating best clinical practices, asthma, care coordination and environmental assessments to reduce the severity and occurrence of asthma attacks that are the number one cause for pediatric hospitalizations and missed school days.
On the obesity front, Borough Hall and SIPCW’s coalition meets regularly to work out the details of the Child Wellness Initiative, a comprehensive approach to addressing obesity and chronic disease prevention for children K through 8th grade. Through a grant from the Staten Island Foundation, The New York Academy of Medicine was contracted to help create a blueprint specific to Staten Island.
In addition, the Healthy Neighborhood Project has been developed by Borough Hall and SI PPS. Designed to partner with our three local colleges, the project seeks to improve community health across a number of sectors:
Improving the Health of Staten Islanders Through Outreach
One of the issues we continue to focus on is raising awareness about the importance of breast cancer screenings. We created four PSAs with breast cancer survivors who shared their stories that were shown online and in local movie theaters. Our office is also sponsoring a free mobile mammography van four times this year at different locations throughout the Island. The screenings will be available to eligible women ages 40 and older who have not had a mammogram in the past year.
This year, we developed “The Heart Project,” which will donate 20 Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) to small businesses across the borough. For those who go into sudden cardiac arrest, immediate CPR and early defibrillation with an AED can more than double a victim’s chance of survival. To apply for a free AED, a business must have fewer than 25 employees and agree to get them trained in CPR/AED.
Another project we have been working on with an ad-hoc health committee is creating a cardiac rehab program for those who have had heart surgery. Cardiac rehab is a supervised, coordinated exercise regimen which can reduce the chances of post-op, heart-related mortality by more than 20 percent. We continue to work with both hospitals to bring cardiac rehab programs to Staten Island heart patients, a component if care that is arguably just as important as life-saving surgery itself.
A Multi-faceted Approach to Substance Abuse
The Borough President’s Office has been instrumental on the mental health/substance use front by putting prevention programs in place in schools, making connections among our partners for increased access to care and so much more. BP Oddo believes in a three-pronged approach to the drug crisis: Prevention; Intervention; and Treatment & Recovery.
With the success of our Too Good For Drugs program, we have added Teen Intervene, an early intervention program to several high schools – Curtis, Port Richmond HS, Tottenville and Concord – which is part of a statewide pilot project with OASAS. We are proud to partner with the SIPCW, YMCA, UAU and OASAS on this program which is being very well received in schools. The Parents You Matter program also teaches parents and teachers to recognize the signs of drug use and how to step in.
In addition, the office has been instrumental in filling the gaps in accessibility to services for the addicted. Thanks to the intervention of Dr. Mantello, Richmond University Medical Center is now an Opioid Overdose Prevention Program and can train users and their families on how to properly administer Naloxone. In addition, peer programs are now in place in local emergency rooms to match overdose victims with a peer to lead them to a treatment center instead of simply discharging them.
In addition, the District Attorney, in partnership with Borough Hall and others, has recently rolled out the heroin Overdose Prevention & Education (HOPE) program, which redirects low level drug offenders to community based health services instead of the justice system.
Also coming is a diversion program that redirects 911 callers who are not having a medical emergency to a crisis center, facilitating a connection to treatment.