nyc health

NYC Establishes Permanent Public Health Corps, Pandemic Response Institute

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What to Know

  • Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday the permanent establishment of the NYC Public Health Corps and the launch of the city's Pandemic Response Institute all in response to the lessons learned during the current COVID-19 health crisis and in preparation for possible future health emergencies.
  • The city has established the NYC Public Health Corps (PHC) in an effort to expand the public health workforce, strengthen the health infrastructure, and promote health equity for the communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The city also announced its selection of Columbia University to launch and operate the Pandemic Response Institute (PRI), along with its key partner, the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH), and several community, research, and industry partners.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday the permanent establishment of the NYC Public Health Corps and the launch of the city's Pandemic Response Institute all in response to the lessons learned during the current COVID-19 health crisis and in preparation for possible future health emergencies.

The city has established the NYC Public Health Corps (PHC) in an effort to expand the public health workforce, strengthen the health infrastructure, and promote health equity for the communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Health Department and NYC Health + Hospitals will lead this initiative.

“COVID-19 hit our most vulnerable communities the hardest,” said de Blasio. “As we recover and move forward as a city, we’re going to ensure all New Yorkers have access to health care, especially in the neighborhoods most impacted by this crisis. Today is a monumental step towards universal health care in New York City.”

Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi shared similar sentiments.

“In New York City, community health workers have been essential to our COVID-19 response,” Chokshi said. “The vision of the Public Health Corps is rooted in this model, taking advantage of our once-in-a-generation opportunity to reimagine public health and redress inequities. The NYC Public Health Corps will not only have immediate impact for a just recovery from COVID-19—it will also be a bulwark against future emergencies and a leap forward for community health in the times in between.”

The launch of a permanent health corps was not the sole health-related news the city revealed Wednesday.

Additionally, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), and New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) announced tthat Columbia University was selected to launch and operate the Pandemic Response Institute (PRI). The CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH), and several community, research, and industry partners are will also be involved in the institute.

The PRI will be supported by up to $20 million in city capital funding to prepare New York City for future health emergencies and epidemics in a more effective and equitable manner.

U.S. health authorities are recommending an extra dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for all Americans eight months after they received their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna shot in order to gain longer-lasting protection against the coronavirus as the delta variant spreads across the country. Romney Smith reports.

“The Pandemic Response Institute, operated by Columbia University with key partner CUNY SPH, will play a critical role in preparing for future pandemics, and promoting equity in public health,” de Blasio said. “Born out of New York’s quick action during the early days of the pandemic, this institute will put our hardest learned lessons to work so that when the next public health crisis emerges, New York City will not only be prepared, we will be ready to lead these global fights.”

Wafaa El-Sadr, University Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, and Director of ICAP and Columbia World Projects, who is leading the PRI said that the "pandemic has opened our eyes to the critical need for strong and vibrant multi-sector partnerships to effectively protect New Yorkers from emergent health threats."

“The Pandemic Response Institute will create an unprecedented nexus for engagement, expertise, and resources from across our city and beyond that will enable us to equitably prepare, predict, prevent, detect, respond to, and recover from major health emergencies," El-Sadr said.

NYCEDC, DOHMH, and New York City Emergency Management reviewed and selected Columbia to launch this institute with a key partnership with CUNY SPH as well as other collaborators, following a Request for Proposals in April.

“We are enormously excited to partner with Columbia University in this vital effort,” said Ayman El-Mohandes, Dean of CUNY SPH. “Our school’s primary commitment to health equity and social justice, coupled with existing strengths in health communication, systems modeling, and community outreach will help to shape and support this initiative to advance a new vision for the health of all New Yorkers.”  

The PRI will focus on: 

  • Building or strengthening technologies and systems to support real-time data collection and sharing; 
  • Driving cutting-edge research on public health innovation and creating capacity to rapidly scale technological solutions in future public health emergencies; 
  • Piloting community-based partnership models and workforce training programs that improve emergency preparedness and advance health outcomes across all communities; 
  • Centering racial equity in all activities of the Institute and addressing gaps in health infrastructure that have disproportionately caused harm to communities of color and others facing structural inequities. 

The PRI will bring together communities, nonprofits, industry and academic institutions, and coordinate with city agencies in relation to and within the entire public health emergency cycle.

The PRI will begin activities this year with plans of launching a community-based location in each borough.

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