Every day, we witness the difficulty many of our patients face to stay healthy. At no time was this more apparent than during the recent COVID-19 pandemic. The Bronx had the highest mortality rate per capita in the city and among the highest in the country.
It was hardly a surprise as communities of color were these hit hardest by the virus.
A large percentage of people in the Bronx live at or below the federal poverty level of $25,750 for a family of four, making nutritious food options inaccessible and unaffordable. Living in poverty, having little access to safe areas for recreational use, and experiencing food insecurity costs our patients their health and quality of life. This all adds to why the Bronx has one of the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and malnutrition in America. Our community deserves better.
SBH has embarked on a mission – to be the change we wish to see in the Bronx. Our goal is to be a pioneer in supporting community access to a healthy life in the Bronx by providing nutritional education, access to healthy food, and fitness activities customized to our patients’ unique needs.
The SBH Health and Wellness Center opens this fall. This transformative project features the Healthplex Fitness Center, the Teaching Kitchen and Center for Culinary Medicine, and the Rooftop Garden, as well as women’s and children’s health centers and an urgent care center.
The Cabrini Foundation, which provides funding to help the health and well-being of vulnerable New Yorkers, thought so highly of this innovative project that they recently awarded it a $200,000 grant. Still, the ability to provide such things as free healthy cooking and exercise classes to those most in need depends on the generosity of you and others.
The 20/20/20 campaign aims to secure 20,000 donations of $20 in 2020. We ask you to donate whatever you can and to forward this link (SBHwellnesscenter.org), which includes more information on the SBH Health and Wellness Center and the clip of a recent news interview about the project with Dr. David Perlstein, to friends and family via texts, emails and the social media platforms you frequent to encourage their help in the fundraising campaign as well.
Why are We Doing This?
SBH Health System serves a low income and ethnically diverse population, with most of our patients covered by Medicaid. The average income for a family of four is well below the poverty level. Unemployment is high and educational levels low, as are the measures of health and wellness. The prevalence of obesity, asthma, diabetes, and heart disease are the highest in New York City, as is the incidence of substance abuse, non-accidental trauma, and behavioral health diagnoses.
For this reason we are making a significant investment in addressing the social determinants of health (SDOH) that we believe will begin to transform the health of the Bronx. We believe that by addressing the unmet SDOH – food insecurity, unsafe outdoor spaces, poor education, stress, and lack of health care coverage – we can support the healing needed to foster a healthier, happier and more productive population.
The Building Project
The project itself is a $156 million, mixed-use development that includes 314 affordable apartment units, a 50,000 square-foot health and wellness center, a multi-use community space with an outdoor landscaped terrace and walking track, and an integrative medicine space.
Ninety-five of the apartment units are being reserved for formerly homeless families and individuals, as well as those individuals identified as “high-utilizers” of the Medicaid system. The 50,000 square foot Health and Wellness Center will feature:
The Healthplex Fitness Center. Hospitals can no longer merely respond to the symptoms of illness and injury. They must deal with the causes. The goal of the medical fitness center is to expand the limits of lifestyle and wellness modification through customized, closely monitored exercise programs for patients, the community and staff.
The SBH Teaching Kitchen. In a community besieged by obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease, the goal of our team of nutritionists and chefs is to demonstrate the clear link between food and health by teaching people how to cook in a healthy and tasty way. After all, you are what you eat.
A Rooftop Farm. Thousands of pounds of fresh, local produce will be grown and made available to those who live in a community where fresh and healthy food is hard to find. A bee farm will produce honey.
The SBH Health and Wellness Center will also include a children’s center, a women’s imaging center and an urgent care center.
The project is transformational and intergenerational. A special focus will be on educating children and teens on how to eat and cook healthy and, in general, live a longer and healthier life.
The campaign is ambitious, but so is the mission of the center. It’s our way of investing in the community we serve. To help make this dream a reality, we need your help.