People living in the city of Newburgh face a 40 percent premature death rate, meaning that 40 percent of individuals die before the age of 65. Premature death rates are able to give an indicator to what the overall health of a population is. This was one of the main reasons why Newburgh was chosen for the Health Disparities Initiative Grant, which is coming to an end on September 30 after a three year run.
The Health Disparities Initiative Grant is from the Orange County Department of Health in partnership with the New York State Office of Minority Health.
The city of Newburgh has a population of 28,406 people, yet one in five do not have health insurance. Twenty six percent of that is the hispanic and latino community.
The activities of the grant allowed for studies and community participation to explore ways to help Newburgh residents live healthier lives.
OCDOH created an outreach division located at 130 Broadway. Additionally, they worked with local organizations like Community Voices Heard, Catholic Charities and Nobody Leaves Mid Hudson.
During the first two years of the program they held eight listening sessions, where 270 community members participated and 94 percent said they were able to talk openly about their experiences.
From the listening sessions, three barriers to better health were identified. These were chronic stress/mental health, transportation and housing/community upkeep.
The grant also allowed community health workers to educate residents on why it’s important to fill out the census and the importance of providing demographic data on official forms, as it impacts representation and funding.
Despite the grant ending, there was a sustainability plan to ensure that “the grant would live on.”
The plan included the various issues that were discussed and the community assets that can be used to find solutions.
The sustainability plans will be distributed throughout the City of Newburgh in both English and Spanish.
“It’s important that the residents who took the time to come out to the listening sessions and shared their thoughts and concerns know that they were heard and we are trying to address those problems in a sustainable way,” said Barbara Clifford, Orange County’s Department of Health’s (OCDOH) Health Equity Director.
One of the initiatives to continue moving Newburgh forward was a partnership with the Newburgh Free Library.
The Library is able to create a Health Disparities section within the library to include materials addressing mental health, thanks to funding from the grant.
The materials and programs are going to be available for all age groups come later this fall when the library reopens.
The grant was also able to fund a bicycle rack and “fix it” station for outside of the library, which the Department of Public Works is going to install later this fall.
“I am really happy to hear about the bicycle rack and the coordination with the library,” said councilwoman Ramona Monteverde. “If we could take it a little further, it would be wonderful to have a program … where people donate their bikes and leave them at the bike rack and if people need to borrow a bike they can.”
Additionally, the grant was able to assist during the COVID-19 pandemic by giving out over 4,000 masks and 2,000 bottles of antibacterial soap to Newburgh residents.