The Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities Center (IHCD) is committed to serving the diverse communities of NYC and surrounding areas, and is striving to ensure health equity, throughout the pandemic and beyond. We have great admiration, respect, and gratitude for the community members that we serve and for our dedicated partner organizations. We stand with our communities of color and with our historically marginalized communities and are committed to the provision of equity and justice.
COVID-19 is creating even greater levels of need in our already extremely vulnerable communities. In response, IHCD has expanded the services we are offering to our communities, and is adapting, with the help of our partners and participants, our programs and research to find new ways to deliver services that respond to the current crisis. We share the below as examples of this work.
FOOD (Food to Overcome Outcome Disparities) delivers. Many of our patients can no longer visit our hospital-based FOOD pantries because of virus exposure risk. To ensure that patients still get the food that they need, IHCD staff have implemented a food delivery program. Through a partnership with our Taxi/For-Hire Vehicle Network drivers and the MSK Transportation team, staff have delivered more than 2000 bags of groceries to the doorsteps of 350 unique cancer patients. Our community partners, such as the South Asian Council for Social Services and Green Bronx Machine, have helped provide food resources to additional struggling households.
ICCAN (Integrated Cancer Care Access Network) navigates a crisis. ICCAN addresses the specific needs of immigrant, minority, and limited English proficient underserved cancer patients. During this pandemic, we have phoned more than 550 of our current ICCAN cancer patients to assess their needs and connect them with essential resources. Patients, now more than ever, need help with securing safe transportation to their appointments, speaking with their cancer providers, navigating the public benefits system, connecting with legal and financial aid, and accessing psychosocial support.
Taxi/For-Hire Vehicle Network drives onward. Taxi/for-hire vehicle (FHV) drivers have stepped up to assist with emergency food distribution and transporting fellow essential workers during the crisis, despite the taxi industry having sustained an enormous economic impact caused by the COVID-19 crisis and drivers being especially vulnerable to workplace virus exposure. We are reaching out to over 2000 Taxi/FHV Network health fair participants to check on their health and food access statuses, navigate them into available telehealth services, answer COVID-related questions, make unemployment and health insurance referrals, and connect them with emergency and community resources, including emergency food resources.
A virtual window opens. The in-person Ventanillas de Salud (VDS; Health Windows) program has had to cease operations for the time being. Instead, we have opened a virtual window by contacting participants to assess their concerns and connect them with needed resources such as mutual aid, food pantries, COVID-19 information, utilities programs, and burial assistance. We have also developed a resource guide for assisting immigrants without status, who are largely excluded from government benefits and emergency assistance, despite contributions made to society and taxes paid.
Coping with COVID-19 stress. Dr. Rosario Costas-Muniz has been developing bilingual (English/Spanish) resources for coping with stress, called PALMS (or PALMA in Spanish), during the COVID-19 pandemic. These are posted on IHCD’s social media pages and available as handouts. She has also developed a series of six videos to support community members throughout the Spanish-speaking world.
IHCD alums volunteer. Many language interpreters trained through IHCD’s PROMISE program reached out to IHCD to see how they could volunteer their interpreter services for community members during the pandemic. Forty-seven of these interpreters, who had been trained by IHCD and Hunter College, have been referred to one of the following organizations: the NY Legal Assistance Group, which provides legal help to address social determinants of health; NY Peace Institute, which provides conflict resolution strategies; and Catholic Charities/Terra Firma, which facilitates access to medical care and enhances the role of medicine and mental health in legal services.
Telehealth readiness screening. Telehealth offers great promise for equitable health care access for our community members. However, at the same time, it can potentially increase the digital divide for the underserved. To assess and address telehealth readiness, IHCD has developed a telehealth readiness and acceptability screener that is being used across all initiatives and will then be used to address documented barriers to telehealth.
With much appreciation, gratitude, and admiration for our communities.
COVID-19 General Resources for New York and New Jersey
Directory of NYS County Health Offices contact info and websites
World Central Kitchen Dream Yard: 1085 Washington Ave, The Bronx, NY 10456 In collaboration with the World Central Kitchen and Assembly Member Michael Blake, we are distributing free meals for community members on Mondays through Fridays, between 1:30pm - 3:00pm, at the
DreamYard Art Center! Swing by to grab your free meal.
Community Food Advocates also has a map of free meal pick up along with other food assistance resources on their website