At Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, there is a shared mission — care for everyone. Not only their patients but their local community. The devastating socio-economic impact of this virus is vast — and disproportionately so in the Bronx. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed needs beyond current means.
What are the main problems?
The Bronx is historically one of the poorest countries in New York, where some people struggle with basic necessities — food and healthcare.
More than 350,000 people in the Bronx experience food insecurity, representing 26% of the city’s total food insecure population.
Food insecurity, lack of access to nutritious and healthy food are inevitably connected and result in a higher need for health services, emergency room visits, and overall higher health care costs. While healthcare is being reformed to highlight the need for screening for food insecurity inside the medical setting, the community still lacks resources to make an impact.
Inextricably connected are the issues surrounding the healthy development of children and mothers.
Consisting of a majority of people of color, who are more likely to face discrimination by health care professionals, maternal needs in this area are growing. CHAM is proud to be a hospital that represents the demographics of its community, helping those who fear discrimination get the health care they deserve.
“…the maternal mortality rate for the Bronx (at 29.9 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) continues to greatly exceed the citywide rate. Citywide, Black women die at a rate over 15 times higher than do white women.”
— New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
The healthy development of children starts with giving their parents equal opportunities to learn about proper care and a healthy upbringing.
How CHAM is helping reshape the Bronx?
Children’s Hospital at Montefiore runs two main widespread programs targeted at reducing food insecurity and providing new families with the resources to raise healthy children.
“Ensuring that all of baby’s first steps are healthy ones”
HealthySteps, a Montefiore Medical Group Behavioral Health Integration Program, provides new families with the tools they need to raise healthy children from day one. Based in the Bronx, one of the poorest congressional districts in the nation, HealthySteps’ patient population — 60 percent of which is dependent on Medicaid — comprises at-risk mothers and babies who are prone to development and behavioral difficulties and face high levels of poverty, job, and food insecurity, and trauma.
HealthySteps currently serves approximately 32,000 of the most vulnerable families each year — and the number is growing in the current climate.
Through collaboration with pediatricians, behavioral specialists, community programming, and more, HealthySteps strives to provide comprehensive support services to families and children age zero to five, including but not limited to:
- Expert childhood development and behavior assistance
- Basic necessities, including baby formula, diapers, baby food, and wipes
- Mental health services for family members and mothers facing post-partum depression, anxiety, and other concerns
- Help in navigating the pediatric healthcare landscape
HealthySteps’ response to COVID-19
HealthySteps’ goal is to “ensure that all of baby’s first steps are healthy ones.”
Today, reaching that goal is more challenging than ever as mothers test positive for COVID-19 and thus face difficulty breastfeeding when malnourished, bonding with their newborn as contagious parents cannot touch the baby, or affording critical resources like baby food due to poverty and job loss.
The specialists at CHAM are working with inspiring determination to meet this growing need despite social distancing, staffing, and resource constraints.
HealthySteps has partnered with Montefiore’s Project BRAVO Food Pantry to provide food and baby supplies for in-need patients by allowing families of four (on average) to receive at least nine meals twice per month.
A product of Montefiore Health System’s mission to care for every body and the whole body, Project BRAVO Food Pantry is a community-based, hospital-driven initiative designed to combat food insecurity for high-risk individuals and families.
Their Bronx home, one of the poorest congressional districts in the nation, is a “food desert” where residents lack access to healthy food — or any food at all for those facing the highest levels of poverty.
A recent report from Hunger Free America stated that more than one in four Bronx individuals is food-insecure, totaling approximately 350,000 people.
Making healthy food choices prevents hospitalizations; lowers the number of individuals with diabetes, obesity, and other life-altering conditions; and lifts up whole communities.
In 1986, Montefiore launched Project BRAVO near their Moses campus — where they still operate today — to help make those healthy choices possible.
- Nutrition support
- A provision of premade meals, shelf-stable goods, fresh produce
- Household and baby supplies, and more
Project BRAVO works directly with the Montefiore Medical Group clinics and collaborates with local non-profits including FeedNYC, Food Bank for New York City, and Hunger Free America in tandem with generous philanthropic leaders.
Project BRAVO’s response to COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed needs beyond current means. In recent years, Project BRAVO has on average supported 350 Bronx families and 100 Montefiore-employee families per week, with operating hours spread across three days.
The devastating socio-economic impact of this virus is vast — and disproportionately so in the Bronx.
To assist the exponential number of people facing poverty, homelessness, and health concerns, they’ve extended their working hours and volunteer team and expanded their client base.
Today, they welcome new mothers from the HealthySteps program, frontline staff members and their families, LGBTQ individuals, patients receiving HIV/AIDS treatment, and other high-risk, high-need communities to benefit from their food pantry.
Project BRAVO is a lifeline for hundreds of Bronx community members — but the demand is far exceeding the supply.
If you want to support CHAM’s efforts to help its local community, donate now!
If you want to donate from the US, please click HERE.
International donations can be made through the official website HERE.