Ensuring Community Health and Nutrition Access During the COVID-19 Pandemic
April 28, 2020
The global coronavirus has brought uncertainty and anxiety into people’s lives, workplaces, and neighborhoods, particularly for those who work to improve the health of our communities.
During this difficult time, many organizations across New York State are working tirelessly to keep people safe, especially the most vulnerable. In response, NYHealth is supporting statewide and local efforts to address emerging health care and public health needs in the wake of the pandemic. In 2020, NYHealth awarded Public Health Solutions (PHS) a grant to help ensure New Yorkers have access to community health and nutrition services during the COVID-19 pandemic. This work particularly benefited communities of color, as the pandemic exacerbated racial inequities in both access to care and food security.
Under this grant, PHS transitioned to a virtual model to assist New Yorkers in enrolling in health insurance, food and nutrition benefits, and other essential services, as well as ensure uninterrupted provision of services for existing clients. PHS created a one-stop-shop access point on its website for New Yorkers to receive tailored referrals for services that meet their specific needs, including enrolling in health insurance, Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition benefits. By digitizing its intake process, PHS centralized its resources, connected clients directly to service providers, removed geographic barriers to enrolling in essential services, and increased efficiency for both clients and service providers. Using a remote access workforce and a digitized intake system also allowed PHS to serve clients from across New York State, particularly in rural regions.