Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was joined by President and CEO of New York City Health + Hospitals Dr. Mitchell Katz and Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Dr. Dave Chokshi at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue to meet with new members of the inaugural New York City Public Health Corps. The NYC Public Health Corps received $35 million to help establish their inaugural workforce based in part on Gillibrand’s efforts during passage of the American Rescue Plan. Following her meeting, Senator Gillibrand announced her push for $55 billion to be included in President Biden’s budget request to establish and replicate a Health Force in every community.
“Today we saw our federal government at work and I am so immensely proud to visit the very first Health Force workers right here in New York City. Over the past two years, our health care system and our health care providers have been under historic levels of stress and are in desperate need of reinforcement. That’s why I fought hard to pass measures from my Health Force, Resilience Force, and Jobs to Fight COVID-19 Act in the American Rescue Plan to meet these rising demands and keep our fellow New Yorkers safe and healthy,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The more than 500 Health Force workers that make up the inaugural New York City Public Health Corps are committed to serving their own communities with equitable and sustainable care. Now, we need to ensure every community has the same access to quality care, which is why I’m calling on President Biden to include $55 billion in his budget request to create a Health Force in every community across the nation.”
“NYC Health + Hospitals is grateful for Senator Gillibrand’s efforts to secure this much-needed funding for the New York City Public Health Corps,” said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “This newly established and community-based group of health care and social workers have already been responding heroically to the needs of our city’s most vulnerable community members and the unique challenges they face in accessing quality, equitable treatment and services. As we grow this initiative, we hope it serves as a model for other health care systems to adopt in cities across the country.”
“The City’s Public Health Corps is a model for the nation, and we hope other jurisdictions follow our lead,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi. “Investments in public health will bring about an equitable and just recovery from this pandemic. Thank you to Senator Gillibrand, for her partnership and commitment to supporting our workforce.”
Over the last decade, the nation’s public health workforce lost nearly 40,000 jobs, while state and local budgets were slashed by 16% and 18%, respectively. In early 2021, Senator Gillibrand introduced the Health Force, Resilience Force, and Jobs to Fight COVID-19 Act, a public health jobs program to help the nation recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and successfully negotiated its inclusion in the American Rescue Plan. The American Rescue Plan included $3 billion for a new public health workforce based on Gillibrand’s Health Force legislation to expand the nation’s public health jobs and infrastructure and aid the country’s vaccine distribution campaign. Members of the NYC Public Health Corps (PHC), New York City’s new local Health Force, carry out initiatives that target a broad spectrum of public health needs—from helping people get vaccinated to counseling residents about diabetes and depression. However, each initiative shares a common goal: promoting the health of New Yorkers. Building on the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, the PHC will strengthen community health across NYC by empowering a knowledgeable workforce that has the trust of local residents, as workers are often from the same neighborhood they serve.
Gillibrand continues to champion the implementation of Health Force: her landmark, multibillion-dollar public health legislation passed in the American Rescue Plan. Gillibrand successfully secured nearly $8 billion for a public health workforce investment to create a robust public health workforce to aid vaccine distribution and mobilize community leaders to improve health outcomes in their communities. It is imperative that vulnerable communities and health leaders have the resources and capability to distribute vaccines equitably and efficiently, and trusted messengers with whom they can talk through their concerns. Last year, Gillibrand sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) pushing to ensure implementation of her ARP-passed provisions behind Health Force in Section 2501, aligned with its original intent, including the implementation of labor standards and wages no less than $15 an hour plus benefits, and targeted hiring in underserved communities. Senator Bennet (D-CO) co-signed the letter. Today, Gillibrand visited the inaugural Health Force site to see this request come to fruition.