The COVID-19 crisis has laid bare the fragility of our region. It has compromised our health, both physical and mental, caused unprecedented disruption to our economy, and has created a deep uncertainty about our future.
Across the state, the pandemic has revealed how unfair our communities are prepared to cope with an emergency of this magnitude. The Ministry of Health in the City of New York has published data reflecting an alarming national trend: the vulnerable groups such as low-income people, the elderly, and people of color suffer from COVID-19 the disproportionate rate.
This is not only due to unequal access to health care, but also an intersecting web of social handicaps which are the most common prerequisites to any disease. Food insecurity, poverty, and housing instability are felt most acutely in the communities where the COVID-19 epidemic has hit the hardest.
As we consider the long road to healing this crisis, one thing is certain: we have an obligation to close the health care gap in our state and create the conditions for a system that works best for all New Yorkers.
The prevention of this kind of pandemic in the future, it will require a response beyond a vaccine. We need to make holistic investment to address the full range of health care and health-related requirements facing our most vulnerable.
What can be done?
The good news is that this crisis has revealed our ability to help those in need.
Hundreds of organizations across our state are dedicated to the service of the diversity, health, and health-related essential for vulnerable New Yorkers. These health care providers, nonprofit organizations, community groups, and represent a broad coalition to address the need throughout our state. They need our support more than ever.
As New York’s largest health care foundation, we, at Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, are in a unique position to provide continued support to community initiatives aimed at maintaining the safety of people and the fed, to help them to return to work, and the support of healthy lifestyles.
On March 31, 131 years, to the day, the Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini arrived in the City of New York and rolled up his sleeves to care for the poorest New Yorkers, we announced $ 50 million in emergency grants to respond to the many needs related to the health of New Yorkers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the beginning of May, we published our first round of emergency funding, nearly half of the $ 50 million allocation. We have supported programs and workers of more than 100 organizations, as our name indicates, have rolled up their sleeves to provide immediate, essential services: personal protective equipment for health care and social services workers, emergency supplies for food banks and pantries, and a danger and/or overtime compensation in the first line, direct-service health care workers.
These organizations include the Food Bank of Central New York, Home Care Association of New York State, Catholic Charities of Brooklyn, Queens, JASA, Citymeals on Wheels, the Iroquois Healthcare Association Inc., Circulo of the Hispanic, Mental Health Associates of Franklin County, and the Greater New York Hospital Foundation.
Their efforts are saving lives.
As we begin the long recovery from COVID-19, we can also help save lives by supporting policies and programs across the State of New York as the address of the set of factors that have worsened this public health crisis, particularly among low-income communities, communities of color, and the elderly population.
In search of our soon-to-be-announced second round of emergency funding, the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation knows that health care is the sum of several factors. Our mandate has never been more urgent.
The Moments of crisis is not only cause an immediate danger; they also offer long term.
Ours now is to take decisive action to create a more equitable distribution of the health care landscape. We need to ensure that the most vulnerable and most fragile among us are not forced to bear the brunt of the next crisis, and that all New Yorkers can enjoy a healthier and more prosperous life.
A little nun, Mother Cabrini has left a great legacy. She and her sisters addressed immediate needs by standing in the back of churches to distribute food, clothing and supplies for families living in poverty. Beyond that, she had a broad vision, which included the establishment of schools and orphanages, to prepare young people to survive in a system that would not always be the catches have been in the fall.
We honor the Mother Cabrini legacy when we are to put into practice what she has learned in supporting both immediate and wider needs of health through nutrition, housing, education, and employment programs that will survive the deadly virus for the generations to come.
Monsignor Gregory Mustaciuolo is the Chief Executive officer of Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, a private, non-profit based in New York and by supporting programs throughout the State of New York. On Twitter @cabrinihealthNY.