Friday Memo – August 23, 2019

Dear Team –

Anyone lucky enough to stroll through our 60 Madison Avenue headquarters over the past eight weeks likely ran into a group of high energy, charming, and sometimes (most of the time) rambunctious teen agers.

This is Community Healthcare Network’s Teens P.A.C.T. Class of 2020: 17 newly trained young leaders ready to start the new school year as peers delivering age appropriate sexual and reproductive health education to thousands of their fellow New York City High School students.

Our young leaders stand out in their schools as beacons of responsibility and information. Teens P.A.C.T. peers facilitate group discussions, provide directional guidance and referrals, and produce a series of YouTube videos, which go viral, about how to navigate issues ranging from sexual consent to financial budgeting.

Thanks to Teens P.A.C.T., by year’s end, thousands of New York’s youth will be better informed, and therefore better armed to thrive as they face the daunting challenges of adolescence.  Next spring, as we do each year, Teens P.A.C.T. will host its More than Just Sex conference, drawing hundreds of students from across the City.

Natasha Harvell, Teens P.A.C.T. Manager, described the summer training for the program’s leaders like this: 

“Through the past eight weeks, they received non-biased comprehensive sexuality education, deepened their understanding of reproductive and social justice, and examined the ways their intersecting identities interact with the world,” Natasha said. Wow!

She continued, “They broadened their public speaking and leadership skills, and challenged—constantly— the misinformed belief that young people cannot affect change.” “Our kids,” sort of how I felt about them by the end of their training, will indeed change the lives of the peer students they educate. Best of all, “our kids” will be indelibly strengthened for the rest of their lives thanks to the CHN experience.

Thanks to Natasha and her energetic team of grown-ups who face the remarkable challenges of nimbly guiding our spirited teens, and the amazing rewards of doing just that.

Final fun fact: who knows what Teens P.A.C.T. stands? Positive Actions & Choices for Teens!

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 A half dozen years ago, Catherine Abate – who served as CHN’s CEO from 1999 to 2014–had a vision to bring wellness and alternative healing to CHN. It is the inspiration behind today’s robust Wellness Program.

Catherine’s wellness vision was deeply personal. By 2014, she was valiantly battling the cancer that sadly took her life.  She felt wellness activities were aiding her battle, and she wanted to share. CHN’s commitment to wellness programming, named in Catherine’s honor and memory, will keep getting stronger.

Under Jenna Taubin’s direction, there are more Wellness participants than ever in activities ranging from yoga to Zumba to reiki. Where we can squeeze the events into our health centers, we do so. We regularly have programs in the conference room in the South Bronx, in the cozy “Wellness Room” on the Lower East Side, and most recently, at our East New York Health Hub.

But space at our centers is at a premium. Therefore, CHN-style, Wellness took that challenge and turned it into an opportunity. Recall that CHN’s Strategic Plan mandates that we look beyond the four walls of our health centers, better to serve our communities. Collaborating with community partners is an essential element to our commitment to improve our patients’ access to the social and economic supports they need for good health care outcomes.

Increasingly, Wellness programs have moved to places like settlement house meeting rooms, local churches, schools, and public space owned by other allied organizations that stand with CHN in meeting the needs of underserved community members.

This is all bringing CHN to where we want to be: providing integrated services to improve health. For now, no one from government or insurance companies  is paying for wellness activities, but we believe it is a solid investment in, first, doing the right thing, and second, in having CHN at the front of the class when health care payments shift from, by the visit, to how well we do in keeping patients healthy.

Even in these dog days of August, as our health centers buzz with patients, many coming in for back to school visits, the rest of CHN is humming along as well. 

Have a good weekend.    

-Bob