Achieving Health Equity: Public Health Solutions' Mission for Change

What was first established as the Medical and Health Research Association of New York City (MHRA), a research organization focused on disease prevention among underserved populations, has since become the largest public health nonprofit serving New York City.

That nonprofit is Public Health Solutions (PHS). On a mission to give every New Yorker a fair and just opportunity to be healthy, PHS provides direct services to the community, gives administrative grant support to community-based organizations, and develops accountable networks that help coordinate service delivery across the city. Every day, PHS is tackling numerous public health issues, from food and nutrition to reproductive health and HIV/AIDs prevention. Since building their own social determinants of health (SDoH) network WholeYouNYC, they’ve looked for more ways to meaningfully engage with primary care providers – and that’s where Yuvo Health came in.

When the Yuvo Health team first met the folks at PHS, we immediately felt a kinship.

As Zachariah Hennessey said, the Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at PHS: “One of the things that's so thrilling about my personal experience working with the Yuvo team is that we all share that value in health equity and health equity being our bottom line.”

In the video below, you can hear more from Zachariah about the incredible work that PHS is doing to support FQHCs and the community. Or, keep reading for a quick Q&A summary of that work.

Zachariah Hennessey of Public Health Solutions (PHS) on their work supporting health centers

Q1: What’s changed since Public Health Solutions first started and how do you support the community?

We’re at a pivotal moment right now for public health in the United States. For the first time in history, life expectancy is on the decline and health disparities are persistent or widening. And Public Health Solutions exists to change that trajectory. Our mission and vision are focused on health equity.

We help put nutritious food on the table for families. We help them access free or low-cost healthcare, including healthcare provided by Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). And we help them enroll in benefits. We also make sure there’s adequate access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. We support families through the pregnancy and new parenting process. We work across the lifespan with families to help them address social determinants of health (SDoH) and the impact on their everyday lives.

Q2: What is the value of FQHCs, and how does Public Health Solutions work with them?

Federally Qualified Health Centers are really essential to advancing health equity. We are in true solidarity with them. Unfortunately, they are undervalued because of the wrong pocket problem. The economic value of the work being done by FQHCs accrues to the health system and health insurance companies because it’s very preventive. It's very upstream. It really helps keep people from getting very sick and showing up to the emergency department and being hospitalized.

While we do a lot of work with individuals and families, as a public health institute, we work mostly at the community level with community-based organizations and FQHCs. We help strengthen them so they can be better resources to the community. This means providing funding, administrative support, training, technical assistance, and advocating for policies that support their critical work.

Q3: What are some specific ways that you’ve supported FQHCs?

A big part of our mission is supporting Federally Qualified Health Centers, and we do that in a lot of different ways. We help them access government funding sources, provide them with free training, and critical supplies like personal protective equipment, contraceptives for the uninsured, cribs and diapers for families.

During the pandemic, we served food to FQHC patients, delivered PPE [personal protective equipment] to FQHC workers. We acquired some of the very first COVID-19 tests on the market and we pushed those out for free to our FQHC partners so that they could test their workers, and those workers could continue to provide lifesaving care, but also keep people out of the hospital during the surge.

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