City accelerates expansion of NYC Care to Queens
by Sara Krevoy
Jun 15, 2020 | 4526 views | 0 0 comments | 1000 1000 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As COVID-19 remains a looming presence across the five boroughs, the city is hitting the gas on its initiative to make primary healthcare accessible to uninsured New Yorkers, extending NYC Care to Queens residents four months ahead of schedule.

NYC Care itself does not provide health insurance. Instead, the city-run program guides those who cannot afford insurance toward health care and mental health services providing at low or no-cost.

The Queens expansion involves hiring new primary care providers, elongating pharmacy hours, offering financial counseling and releasing public education materials.

By September, the city will also open a community clinic in Jackson Heights, as well as in Bushwick and Tremont, focused on comprehensive outpatient services for recovering COVID-19 patients.

An acceleration of NYC Care comes in conjunction with efforts by the recently formed Taskforce on Racial Inclusion & Equity to facilitate an equity-based approach to COVID-19 response and recovery efforts throughout the city's hardest-hit communities. In the weeks ahead, the task force will remain involved in program implementation.

“COVID-19 exposed our city’s most painful disparities, including access to medical care” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement. “By expanding NYC Care, we are tackling these inequities head on, and bringing affordable healthcare and mental health resources to the communities that need them the most.”

With an enrollment of more than 22,000 New Yorkers to date, NYC Care first rolled out in August 2019 in the Bronx, and is currently available in Brooklyn and Staten Island. The task force predicts the bolstered program will reach an additional 55,000 people in Queens and Manhattan.

In addition to primary care, special care, dental care, eye care, surgery, women’s health and affordable medicine, the mayor emphasized the importance of mental health services within the city’s initiative.

NYC Care will now allow communities of color, which have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, the opportunity for neighborhood-based mental health care.

According to the mayor’s office, a survey conducted by city agencies within these communities yielded nearly 300 responses articulating concerns over processing grief and loss, anxiety around job insecurity, managing social isolation and other pandemic-related trauma.

From July until December, mental health counselors will engage community and faith-based organizations in order to provide trainings and coping sessions for residents.

“We hear our communities loud and clear, said task force executive director Grace Bonilla. “By addressing the challenges faced by the hardest-hit neighborhoods that have been most impacted by decades of disparities and by working with our community leaders, we are taking the first steps towards healing together.”

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