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Today we acknowledge National Poverty in America Awareness Month by renewing our commitment to public health. PAGNY values above all else our professionals’ mission to serve every New Yorker, no matter their economic status.

Yesterday we honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with his telling of the Good Samaritan parable. That story reflects Dr. King’s focus on providing care and justice for those in need. Healthcare is integral to this vision of justice, and PAGNY’s mission aligns with the King Center’s statement that “ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for ‘the least of these.”

Though New Yorkers continue to lead longer, healthier lives each year, economic and environmental disparities have continued longstanding inequities in health outcomes. According to a report by EquityNYC, New Yorkers living in poverty are more likely to be affected by diabetes, COVID-19, heart disease and stroke, among other health issues. Premature death overall in NYC is correlated with poverty. EquityNYC suggests that ”the rising cost of healthcare, pollution-generating facilities in low-income communities of color, and different access to nutritious food and outdoor space all contribute to health inequality,” noting as well that the COVID-19 pandemic “has exacerbated economic and behavioral health challenges and widened disparities.”

It’s clear that public healthcare is as important as it ever has been, and we are proud to partner with NYC Health + Hospitals to build public health while removing structural barriers to care. With their mission-driven commitment, PAGNY physicians and allied health professionals provide patient-centered care for all New Yorkers, regardless of their ability to pay.

Poverty measures across the country have stabilized since the early days of the pandemic, but a lot still needs to be done to improve health for those in need across the City. As Dr. King said, “although we have come a long, long way in the economic realm, we have a long, long way to go in order to make economic justice a reality.”

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