The Covid crisis exposed the deep weaknesses in New York’s health delivery system, which were long known by health professionals but unseen and unknown by most of the general public. In a post-COVID era, they can no longer be ignored. The famous quote by Winston Churchill applies: “never waste a good crisis.” Out of the harm of the pandemic, we have an opportunity to rebuild and change our health system for the better.

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By Stephen Berger

How can New York City build and sustain a transformative Public Health Corps to measurably improve health equity across neighborhoods?

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed major weaknesses in New York City’s health care delivery system, public health infrastructure, and economy. In 2021, New York City (NYC) and New York State (NYS) officials took initial and independent steps to create Public Health Corps workforces, designed to build neighborhood-level emergency response public health capacity and infrastructure to last beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. While public details of these efforts are scant at this early stage, and the extent to which city agencies and the state are coordinating efforts is unclear, we applaud the vision and direction of these proposed programs, especially given the strong body of evidence that supports the impact of CHW programs on improving health outcomes among vulnerable communities. In particular, we support the plan to place CHWs in local front-line community organizations, thus shoring up the very organizations that served heavily-impacted communities most directly during the pandemic.

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by Lorna E. Thorpe, PhD Marc N. Gourevitch, MD, MPH Chau Trinh-Shevrin, PhD Nadia Islam, PhD