On Nov. 29 NYC Health + Hospitals’ NYC Care program received the 2022 Bernard J. Tyson National Award for Excellence in Pursuit of Healthcare Equity from the Joint Commission and Kaiser Permanente.
“The 2022 Bernard J. Tyson National Award for Excellence in Pursuit of Healthcare Equity recognizes healthcare organizations that achieve a measurable, sustained reduction in one or more healthcare disparities,” reads a press release on the matter.
NYC Care is a wildly successful program that provides access to healthcare for New Yorkers who cannot afford or who are otherwise ineligible for health insurance.
“It is my honor to accept this award on behalf of the program and our dedicated team, who have worked tirelessly to reduce inequities in care across the city,” said Dr. Jonathan Jiménez, Executive Director of NYC Care from NYC Health + Hospitals adding that, “I would like to thank The Joint Commission and Kaiser Permanente teams for the recognition of our efforts and for allowing us to share our accomplishments. NYC Care is a first-of-its-kind healthcare access program because of its comprehensiveness and scale. We will continue to honor Tyson’s legacy and hope to inspire other health systems to take similar action.”
NYC Care, which was launched in 2019, provides access to low or no-cost primary and specialty care, prescription medicines, member materials in multiple languages, a membership card, and a 24-hour customer service line for New Yorkers regardless of their immigration status.
According to the press release, “close to half of undocumented New Yorkers are uninsured and expect to remain so” and that a full “two thirds of undocumented New Yorkers have resided here for over a decade.”
As of February this year the program boasts an active membership of over 100,000 New Yorkers.
The program also announced this year that a six-month residency eligibility requirement was eliminated, resulting in the removal of another barrier for people to access the program.
Critical to the program’s success has been a multi-pronged public awareness and outreach strategy involving citywide advertising campaigns in mainstream and community and ethnic media which has supplemented ongoing outreach work at the grassroots level.
The program partners with numerous agencies including the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) and the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit (PEU). In addition, NYC Care partners with another 22 community-based organizations across New York to conduct outreach and facilitate enrollment.
Health care regardless of immigration status
“We believe every New Yorker, regardless of where they were born or what immigration status they have, is guaranteed the right to quality, affordable health care,” said Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York President and CEO Myoungmi Kim, adding that, “Our community is grateful to have a program like NYC Care where folks unable to apply for health insurance in the past because they did not have eligible immigration status can now see a doctor and get the treatment and care that they need to live fuller and healthier lives. NYC Care is well deserving of this award and we are proud to be a partner organization of the program.”
In conversation with Vision Times Dr. Jiménez said the program has reached its goal of serving 100,000 members and while there are no plans in the works to expand the number of offices the program works out of the program will “definitely continue to expand access to primary care [and] preventative services.”
“We’ve been at over 100,000 active members for over a year and I think the next frontier in terms of … challenges is really continuing to grow the program as much as possible, making sure that every single ethnicity and population within the diverse metropolis that is New York City knows about their right to health care,” Jiménez said adding that, “ I really think one of the biggest things the program has done is be able to tell everyone in the city, ‘If you live in New York City you have access to health care.’”
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Jiménez said that it’s an “all hands on deck situation” to meet the needs of immigrants who have been bused to New York City from the southern border.
He said that New York City Health + Hospitals is working to ensure child migrants are vaccinated prior to enrolling in public school and that migrants with chronic diseases are also served. “We’ve been happy to be able to serve in that way,” Jiménez said.
NYC Care is continually working to meet the needs of the community and part of that is offering services in over 200 languages. “We definitely also want to let folks know that language access is a big part of the system and we have telephonic interpretation across the system for every single staff member, over 200 languages available through telephonic interpretation,” Jiménez said adding that, “We also have providers that speak different languages including Cantonese [and] Mandarin and we recently established a website where you can search … by provider language to make that a little easier for people who are interested in getting care in New York City Health + Hospitals.”