The Greater Brooklyn Health Coalition has coordinated a long list of innovative and influential collaborative projects. To address barriers to healthcare that exist for Brooklyn residents, GBHC convenes key players and hosts conferences to develop policy recommendations; trains health staff with cultural and language-specific curricula; provides educational opportunities for residents; provides technical assistance and networking opportunities to agencies undertaking efforts to reduce barriers to care; and disseminates information through Health Happenings, a monthly newsletter, with a circulation of over 6,000 readers. GBHC also helped create the only online tool, HITE (Health Information Tool for Empowerment), for connecting people to free and low-cost healthcare and supportive services.
In 1998, GBHC coordinated a conference on immigrant health care, Bridging the Health Care Gap, which brought together community, political, and health care leaders from New York to focus on demographic shifts, health care delivery and immigrant populations, health policy and the gaps that exist, and most importantly, how to address the changes. In 1999, in cooperation with the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President, GBHC convened Health Care Access 2000 – Using Brooklyn as a Case Study, a conference that examined issues related to health care access and developed recommendations for legislative initiatives and pilot projects. This conference and the work of GBHC resulted in ten member agencies representing African-American, Caribbean, Chinese, Jewish, Haitian, Latino, Pakistani, and Russian communities to be funded by the New York State Department of Health for public health insurance Child Health Plus and Family Health Plus enrollment. Since 2001, GBHC members have enrolled over 55,000 children and adults living in Brooklyn in public health insurance.
In 2001, GBHC convened a conference at Long Island University attended by over 350 health care advocates on Who Will Decide For You: Advance Directives – A Cross Cultural Perspective where a multi-lingual reference manual to enable faith-based and community organizations to promote Advance Directives for their constituents was distributed. As a result of its work and the above highlights, GBHC was invited in 2002 by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to serve as the Brooklyn facilitator for the New York City Public Health Partnership. As the facilitator, GBHC was charged with developing a public health agenda for Brooklyn.
In October of 2002, GBHC together with a network of citywide partners hosted Direct from D.C.: The United States Department of Health and Human Services—Accessing Resources for Your Community. An estimated 1,200 citywide service providers attended the daylong conference. The event sought to demystify the federal government’s Department of Health and Human Services through increasing grassroots organizations’ throughout the New York region’s understanding of who’s who and who does what within the HHS network. It spread the word about HHS’ Compassion Capital Fund, as well as launched HHS’ Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives new CD-ROM “Guide to HHS Grants”. It made history as the largest health care conference ever held in New York City that was organized by the community.1
GBHC sponsored a number of trainings in 2002 and 2003 on health communication topics, including: Outreaching to Hard-To-Reach Populations Using the Ethnic Media; The Relationship between Faith-based Work and Health Care Delivery; Cultural Competency in Health Care Delivery; and Engaging the Uninsured in Brooklyn.
In 2004, GBHC worked with the New York City Department for the Aging to host numerous trainings on issues affecting the aging in Brooklyn. The trainings culminated into a half-day conference on caregiving. As a result, the City Department for the Aging turned to GBHC to provide one-on-one technical assistance to other organizations citywide on program planning, and organized a workshop on organizational partnerships and consortium development featuring GBHC and its work.
In November 2004, GBHC hosted a conference Beyond Cultural Competency, which over 250 citywide providers attended. As a result, GBHC has been invited to meet with the staff of two medical universities to discuss implementation of cultural competency into practice. In April 2005, GBHC together with CAMBA hosted a Community Health Forum for Service Providers. The event was a day dedicated to continuing education for front-line workers in human services. Over 300 citywide professionals attended the event. As a result of the programs success, City University of New York’s Brooklyn College has asked GBHC to serve on its advisory board for its Masters in Public Health program.
In 2006, GBHC focused its programming on four areas: reducing disparities in cardiovascular disease, community-led efforts to increase the physical activity and pedestrian safety of our schoolchildren, HIV/AIDS prevention targeting at-risk communities, and reducing infant mortality in Brooklyn. We conducted three forums on Taking Action Against Cardiovascular Disease in Our Communities, training 200 people on community strategies and their role in CVD prevention. We established relationships with 4 Brooklyn schools and began Walk-Our-Children programs with parents, kids, and school administrators. We conducted a HIV/AIDS Health Forum: A Training for Service Providers Working with Communities of Color, training 100 HIV/AIDS service providers in strategies for reducing the risk of HIV/AIDS within at-risk and vulnerable populations. Through A Community Celebration: Honoring Women of Color and Discussing HIV/AIDS we reached 150 people living in communities with high incidence of HIV and AIDS. In addition, we conducted Infant Mortality Reduction workshops for 325 Brooklyn residents.
1 Community is defined as community-based organizations, faith-based institutions, hospitals in the boroughs, local health insurance providers, and community-oriented corporate foundations.
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