Gotham Gazette

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public health

public health

  • As Psychiatric Beds are Brought Back into Service Slowly, Officials Point to Workforce Shortage

    Gov. Hochul visits a hospital (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)

    Hospital administrators and state regulators say a severe workforce shortage has stymied efforts to restore a majority of the 1,050 inpatient psychiatric beds removed across the state during the height of the pandemic in 2020.

    Three years later, over 600 beds remain offline, according to the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH), despite a $55 million infusion in last year's state budget and another $9 million to support the staffing pipeline.

    The beds have become a focal point for Governor Kathy Hochul

  • ‘We Need to Build Everywhere’: Brooklyn Borough President Reynoso on Housing, Maternal Health, & Other Priorities

    Brooklyn BP Antonio Reynoso (photo: John McCarten/City Council)

    One year into his term as Brooklyn Borough President, Antonio Reynoso is taking an expansive view of his office and pushing an ambitious set of policy proposals.

    Reynoso, then a City Council member, emerged through a tough, crowded Democratic primary in 2021, while running as a reform-minded candidate endorsed by progressives like Rep. Nydia Velazquez and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. Earlier this month, Reynoso delivered his first State of the Borough address, a

  • Max Politics Podcast: Borough President Antonio Reynoso's Vision for Brooklyn

    Brooklyn BP Antonio Reynoso (photo: Emil Cohen/City Council)

    January 11, 2023 - Max Politics Podcast: Borough President Antonio Reynoso's Vision for Brooklyn

    Borough President Antonio Reynoso joined the show to discuss his new State of the Borough agenda and vision for the city's most populous borough.

    Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter @TweetBenMax. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.

  • We’re All Exhausted, But Don’t Let that Stop You from Taking Essential Health Precautions Amid a Triple Threat

    Getting vaccinated (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    While COVID-19 has exhausted us, vigilance is critical as RSV and the flu also threaten our health, our loved ones, and our city.

    Last year around the holiday season, many of us were gift shopping and preparing to see loved ones when we were alerted to news about the latest COVID-19 variant, the fast-spreading Omicron. We then had to access the latest information about the ever-evolving threat and reassess some of our plans and approach, trying to keep

  • Bridging the Gap in Understanding the Link Between Domestic Violence and Brain Injury

    Answering the call (credit: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    If you ask most Americans to describe what comes to mind when you say the word “concussion,” they will likely describe a staggering football player being helped off the field. This is understandable, as football is fully enmeshed in our culture. When Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered a...

  • Hochul's 'SOS' Teams Begin Outreach to Homeless People in Subways

    Gov. Hochul & Mayor Adams discuss subway support teams (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)

    Governor Kathy Hochul's Safe Option Support outreach teams have helped find "bed placements" for 150 homeless individuals living in the subways in their first six months of operation, according to the New York State Office of Mental Health.

    The figures, provided to Gotham Gazette after an inquiry, indicate some action by one of Hochul's first major mental health and public safety initiatives as governor, amid rising homelessness and street violence. They also raise more questions about whether

  • Keeping Kids, Families, and Communities Safe as Children are Back to School

    Getting vaxxed (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    Back-to-school is traditionally an exciting time for parents, teachers, and educators. With New York City returning to school this month after COVID-19 kept children isolated from classmates and, in many instances, interrupted routine medical visits, experts fear the population will have lower immunity and be behind on routine vaccines.

    The city continues to work its way out of the pandemic and encourage "back-to-school checkups." Let's ensure the whole family

  • Our Behavioral Healthcare System is in Crisis; Here’s How We Fix It

    Getting help (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    Very often patients with serious issues such as active hallucinations, self-harm behavior, severe depression, and suicidality wait for days in common spaces or crowded hospital hallways for observation or the next available inpatient psychiatric bed. I’ve seen patients in need of hospitalization far exceed available beds in New York City.  For someone experiencing a mental health crisis, such an experience can be traumatic and triggering. It impacts quality of care and prolongs and complicates treatment. It

  • Health and Transportation Benefits from Congestion Pricing Could Be Truly Transformative


    Manhattan traffic (photo: Marc A. Hermann/MTA)

    Traffic pollutes, and air pollution results in poorer health. This means higher rates of asthma, lower birth weights, and a greater risk of maternal health problems.

    As health and transportation policy experts, we see that congestion pricing in New York City will be a win for our region – not only for transportation flow, but also for air quality and public health.

    Vehicle emissions are a major source of nitrogen oxides

  • To Address the Crisis at Rikers, Invest in Public Health Now

    On Rikers Island (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)

    July 15, 2022 marked the day that 34-year-oldMichael Lopez died of an overdose...

  • City Council Examines Bills to Address Maternal Health, Racial Disparities in Reproductive Care

    City Council hearing on maternal health (photo: Emil Cohen/NYC Council)

    At a hearing this past week, New York City Council Members discussed a package of legislation related to maternal health, mortality, and morbidity and seeking to address healthcare inequities as well as the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade constitutional abortion protections. The joint hearing held by the Council’s Committee on Health and Committee on Hospitals dealt with...

  • FDA Not Aggressive Enough as Multiple New York Baby Food Companies Tainted with Heavy Metals

    Baby food (photo: @kgregory)

    On February 4, 2021,a congressional report exposed four major baby food companies for allowing tremendous concentrations of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in their products. Naturally, shortly after finding out about the sheer carelessness of the manufacturers, parents nationwide became

  • Max Politics Podcast: Dick Gottfried on 52 Years in the State Assembly

    Assemblymember Dick Gottfried (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)

    June xx, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Dick Gottfried on 52 Years in the State Legislature

    Assemblymember Dick Gottfried is retiring after 52 years in the Legislature. He joined the show to reflect on his tenure, including 35 years chairing the Assembly health committee, how state government has changed over time, his major accomplishments, the New York Health Act, and more.

    Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter ...

  • Public Health, Public Safety, and the New York City Budget

    Mayor Adams at an announcement (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

    Typically, the scorching hot summer months bring a rise in violence, but there’s much more than temperature at play. Last fall, a Violence Interrupter in Brooklyn shared with us his greatest concerns as we moved to the colder months. He noted that the sunset of extended unemployment benefits would cause more families to be under stress, leading more kids to leave their turbulent home environment in search of solace and kinship in the streets. 

    How New York Must Build Back a Better Primary Care System


    Mayor Adams gets health care (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    If you spotted a nickel on the ground, would you stop to pick it up? Probably not—it seems too small, too insignificant. Why bother?

    But that small amount is how we value primary care within the context of our whole health care system. It is estimated that only5–7

  • In Response to Covid, Manhattan Borough President Seeks to Mandate Improved Indoor Air Quality Standards

    Manhattan BP Mark Levine (photo: William Alatriste/NYC Council)

    Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine is planning to introduce legislation to mandate improved indoor air quality standards to preempt future disease outbreaks and limit successive waves of COVID-19. 

    Levine, who previously served on the City Council and made a name for himself during the pandemic as chair of the Council’s health committee, is working with Council Member Keith Powers, a fellow Manhattan Democrat, and has requested the Council’s legislative

  • Winning the Public Health Recovery from Covid

    Mayor Adams visits health care workers (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    In its battle against COVID-19, New York City, even under a notably disorganized mayor, arrived at an impressive level of health organization. As may be recalled, Mayor de Blasio switched the lead role in the covid fight to Health + Hospitals, the city’s public hospital system, from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), which retained major responsibilities but not its usual lead position in epidemics. It is to the credit of both agencies that, under this forced and

  • Max Politics Podcast: Senator Gustavo Rivera on Crunch-Time State Budget Negotiations

    State Senator Gustavo Rivera (photo: NYS Senate Media Services)

    March 30, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Senator Gustavo Rivera on State Budget Negotiations

    State Senator Gustavo Rivera, a Bronx Democrat and chair of the Senate health committee, joined the show to discuss final state budget negotiations, touching on a variety of key issues, as well as the overarching process, Mayor Adams' Albany agenda, and more.

    Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter @TweetBenMax. You can listen to the

  • Will New York Form a Covid Response Review Commission?

    Gov. Cuomo holding a covid briefing (photo: Governor's Office)

    In 2018, a sight-seeing helicopter crashed into the East River near Manhattan's Upper East Side, killing five passengers. A year later it happened again on the roof of a skyscraper in midtown. The pilot died. After the second crash, Senator Chuck Schumer called for the FAA to require helicopters be equipped with "black boxes," like airplanes, so officials could examine what goes on in the cockpit before a wreck and avoid future tragedies.

    Two years after the first recorded COVID-19 deaths in New York, facing the threat of a new strain

  • Saving Lives from New York City to Rochester and Beyond

    Overdose rescue kit (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photo Office)

    The city of Rochester is not immune to our country’s overdose crisis. In 2020, the most recent year we have data from, we lost over 230 people to preventable overdoses in our city, and preliminary data points to that only increasing in 2021. Each person we are losing sends a shockwave through our communities and families, and we cannot give in to the idea that this epidemic is normal or unpreventable.

    The reality is, every overdose death is preventable.

  • Turn to Communities to Turn Around New York’s Unprecedented Health Disaster

    Mayor Adams promotes good health (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    New York City and State face unprecedented mass illness--from chronic disease that has been allowed to fester for decades, ongoing endemic COVID-19, and uncountable already existing cases of Long Covid--plus rising overdose rates and emergency illness from drug use, and more. With all this, mass trauma has overtaken whole communities. There will never be sufficient professional personnel, from clinicians to police officers, to contend with this unprecedented

  • ‘We Simply Cannot Predict What This Virus Will Do Next’: Dr. Jay Varma’s Reflections and Warnings on New York City’s Covid War

    Covid vaccination (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    As New York City was in the throes of the initial devastating wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio recruited Dr. Jay Varma to help guide his public health policy.

    Varma, a well-respected international expert on infectious disease control and prevention, became de Blasio’s senior advisor for public health in April 2020, relocating back to New York City from work he was doing abroad and helping to craft public health policy for the city through the end of 2021 and de Blasio’s tenure as

  • What is New York City Doing to Boost Covid Vaccination Where Rates Remain Persistently Low?

    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    Getting vaccinated (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    Uptake of COVID-19 vaccines remains persistently low in pockets of New York City two years into the pandemic, despite being shown to reduce the severity and spread of the virus that has killed nearly 40,000 New Yorkers.

    A city health department study in August found a vast majority of covid-related hospitalizations

  • 'Clear Proof Lives Have Been Saved': Will New York Expand on First Overdose Prevention Centers?

    An Overdose Prevention Center (photo: @nycHealthy)

    In December, New York City became the first municipality in the country to establish Overdose Prevention Centers to allow people with substance use disorders to safely use drugs under medical supervision while receiving services such as medical care, mental health treatment, and more. After years of consideration and discussions with other levels of government, the de Blasio administration gave a longtime nonprofit service-provider the go-ahead to offer safe injection sites.

    Within the first three months, the two sites in East Harlem and Washington

  • Max Politics Podcast: Dr. Dave Chokshi on Recent Covid Policy Decisions and His Tenure as NYC Health Commissioner

    NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)

    March 9, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Dr. Dave Chokshi on His Tenure as NYC Health Commissioner

    Outgoing New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi joined the show to discuss the city's latest covid policies, what's next in the city's fight against COVID-19, and to reflect on his nearly two-year tenure as city health commissioner. Dr. Chokshi, who stayed on in the role for the first few months of the Adams administration and is now departing city government as planned in mid-March, explained