The Academy has proved to be a resilient and effective agent for tackling specific health problems as they arise, and for identifying future threats that others may not be addressing. In the face of great shifts in our political climate, our work to promote prevention, reduce chronic disease, and prepare the city to be age-friendly remains critically important. Through the power of evidence, partnership and the philosophy of putting communities first, we have touched the lives of many.
We have raised the voices of the three New Yorkers below. DONATE TODAY to help us raise more voices and advance the health and wellbeing of all New Yorkers.
We followed the evidence and made the case for change to help Ray stay in his local neighborhood of East Harlem, despite the construction boom!
"I wake up at all times of the night. I can't make plans for the future. And neither can my neighbors."
- Ray Tirado
Ray Tirado has lived in East Harlem for 57 years and thought he would live there forever. That is, until developers targeted his block as part of the East Harlem construction boom. Tirado was told by the building owners they wanted him to move out, as they planned to buy him out of his lease to tear down his building. Aware that he would never find another rent-controlled and affordable home in the community where he’s lived his whole life, Tirado resisted. Today, he’s the building’s last resident. The boiler is broken, he relies on electric heaters for warmth and is bringing in prepared food. The stress is intense.
Tirado is a living example of something health experts began to understand decades ago. Often, it’s the conditions and policies that are unrelated to health that affect people’s health the most. To raise awareness that stable, affordable housing, in particular, is absolutely crucial to physical and mental health, the Academy conducted the first ever East Harlem Neighborhood Plan Health Impact Assessment—to inform the planned rezoning of the community and to fight against the displacement of long-time residents like Tirado.
The Academy is an effective agent for tackling the inequities that contribute to health disparities and for identifying future health threats in communities that others may not address. As for Tirado, he is feeling better that he is still in his neighborhood. He’s trying to think positively and figure out what comes next: “I play chess, so I try to think two moves ahead.”
We put communities first and helped Ernest mobilize communities in Brooklyn to courageously speak about mental health stigma.
"It's dangerous to call people 'crazy' when it might be the environment they're in that keeps them sick ... character is how you treat those who can't do anything for you."
- Ernest Estimé
It was Ernest Estimé's curiosity that led him to join a group of Bushwick residents to talk about the stigma surrounding mental health, but it was his compassion that helped him understand that anxiety and depression are closely connected to some of the problems his neighbors experience, like violence and homelessness.
Not being one to stand on the sidelines, Estimé joined The New York Academy of Medicine and its partners in a series of public deliberations on mental health. There, he and his neighbors had the opportunity to learn, debate and discuss the issues, leading to several key recommendations, focusing on efforts to reduce stigma on children.
Because the Academy listens to people who matter the most, we are helping to transform neighborhoods.
Our research changed the lives of the Gorritz family by providing the evidence needed for community health workers to go into their home and eliminate asthma triggers to prevent relapses.
"The kids used to get sick inside the apartment more than they did outside."
- Patricia Gorritz
For 11 years, Patricia Gorritz watched her two young children struggle to breathe as they were diagnosed with repeated chest colds, bronchial infections and, eventually, asthma. "The kids used to get sick inside the apartment more than they did outside," Gorritz says. Eventually, Gorritz discovered black mold steadily creeping up a bedroom wall, but she did not connect it to her children's asthma until much later. Soon there would be mold in both bedrooms. The NYC Housing Authority painted over the mold five times, but never fixed the leak that was causing it.
Only through a partnership with the Academy was a local nonprofit able to expand and stregthen its program to help families like the Gorritzes, identify and remove the asthma triggers that were endagering the family's health.
The Academy understands that the power of partnership leads to better health for New Yorkers. Today, her children are doing much better, Gorritz says. They're able to get by with only their inhalers, and don't need the frequent nebulizer treatments and emergency room visits they did before. "I couldn't be happier with how they helped us," Gorritz says.
The New York Academy of Medicine’s mission is to advance solutions that promote the health and well-being of people in cities worldwide. Help us raise more city voices by DONATING TODAY.