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Bronx Health Reach Holds Clergy/Legislators Meeting For #Not62 – The Campaign for a Healthy Bronx

Bronx Clergy Leaders and Bronx Elected Officials Pledge to Improve the Health and Well-being of all Bronx Residents

Photo: Left to right: Rev. Dr. R.L. Foley, Sr., Cosmopolitan AME Church, Nicholas Freudenberg, DrPH, Distinguished Professor of Public Health at the CUNY School of Public Health and Hunter College, Charmaine Ruddock, Project Director for Bronx Health REACH.


Bronx, New York (November 25, 2015) — On Thursday, November 19, Bronx Health REACH held the #Not62 – The Campaign for a Healthy Bronx! Clergy/Legislators Meeting with clergy and lay leaders from 24 Bronx based churches and 6 Bronx elected officials and their representatives to discuss and determine action steps to improve the health and well-being of all Bronx residents. The Clergy leaders and elected officials were also joined by 35 individuals from 20 Bronx organizations and community groups looking to improve the generation-spanning obstacles to good health that Bronx residents continue to face such as poverty, unemployment, underemployment, and diminished access to quality education and healthcare.

For the past six years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin have released the County Health Ranking & Roadmaps Report that measures health outcomes and the critical role that non-health related factors like education, employment, income and the environment play in a community’s health and the quality of life of their residents. The 2015 report, as did the previous reports, ranked Bronx County 62 out of the 62 counties in New York State. In response, #Not62-The Campaign for A Healthy Bronx was launched by the Bronx Borough President, the Bronx District Public Health Office, the Institute for Family Health/Bronx Health REACH, Lehman College’s Institute for Health Equity, and Montefiore Health Systems, Inc.

“We decided to hold the clergy/legislators event for #Not62 – The Campaign for A Healthy Bronx! as Bronx elected officials and clergy leaders both have unique platforms to not only create awareness of the Bronx’s standing as the least healthy county in New York State, but to engage a wide cross section of the community in improving that standing,” said The Institute for Family Health’s Bronx Health REACH Director Charmaine Ruddock. “The speakers comments focused on both the problems that have made the Bronx the least healthy, and how organizations can work together to take steps and move the Bronx out of 62,” added Ms. Ruddock.

Dr. Jane Bedell, Assistant Commissioner and Medical Director, Bronx District Public Health Office, NYCDOHMH, one of the speakers at the event spoke on the improvements in the health of Bronx residents such as lower infant mortality and higher life expectancy. However, she also pointed out that diabetes and obesity rates are on the rise with the Bronx having the highest rates of diabetes in the city. “We have made some gains but we have so much more to do, and have to think about our biggest, most important demographic – young people, to make sure the future for them is as solid as we can make it. We owe it to them,” said Dr. Bedell.

The keynote speaker, Nicholas Freudenberg, DrPH, Distinguished Professor of Public Health at the City University of NY School of Public Health and Hunter College spoke about the need to understand what creates healthy changes. Professor Freudenberg proposed that individuals/organizations pledge not to engage in any activity that worsens the health of Bronx residents or that would widen the gaps in income, health, and education. Prof. Freudenberg went on to say, “This #Not62 pledge would organize and mobilize families, leaders, and community organizations that are committed to improving the Bronx and demand that those doing business in the Bronx rethink their business model. In 2020, when we get together to look at county rankings we want to see some progress, and what we do tomorrow, next month, and next year will determine whether or not we will achieve that goal.”

Also speaking at the #Not62 – The Campaign for A Healthy Bronx! event was Fernando Tirado, Director of New Initiatives at the Bronx District Public Health Office, Maxine Golub, Sr VP at the Institute for Family Health, Melissa Cebollero, Senior Director, Office of Community Relations from Montefiore Health System, and Paula N. Richter, Director of Health and Human Services in the Bronx Borough President’s Office. At the conclusion of the event those attending pledged to join the #Not 62 Campaign and committed themselves to take action to improve the health and well-being of the Bronx. The event was hosted by Cosmopolitan AME Church, 39 West 190th Street, led by Rev. Dr. R.L. Foley, Sr.