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Lincoln Art Exchange barters health treatment

Bronx Times

Lincoln Hospital has launched a new program that will allow artists to barter their time and talent for needed health care.

In an announcement on Monday, January 23 in the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center’s main lobby, located at 234 E. 149th Street, New York City Health and Hospital Corporation president and CEO Alan Aviles was joined by Lincoln Hospital executive director Iris Jimenez-Hernandez, Tony Award-winning actor and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, Radio Personality and Hip Hop celebrity Roxanne Shante, Bronx Council on the Arts director Deirdre Scott, and representatives from the Bronx Museum, Teatro Pregones, Communilife, The Actor’s Fund, and the local artist community for the announcement of the start of the Lincoln Art Exchange program.

The program allows artists of all disciplines the opportunity to exchange and barter their creative services for medical care, and is designed to address the growing number of freelance and independent artists who cannot afford to enroll in health care plans and have become an at-risk population lacking access to quality health care, according to Lincoln.

“I am pleased to announce that, as of January 2012, uninsured New York City artists will be able to trade their artistic talents for health care at Lincoln Hospital,” Aviles said. “This invaluable initiative is an effort aimed at reducing health disparities and improving health outcomes among our artists. In this effort, the collective participation of our partners is an important element in identifying and recruiting artists that will benefit from our program.”

As part of the Lincoln Art Exchange Program, uninsured artists will trade their creative talents for medical care by working with hospital staff on everything from holding dance recitals to painting murals in Lincoln’s clinics and inpatient units, Jimenez-Hernandez said.

“We are reaching out to our local artist community and engaging them in supporting and in working with us and our patients,” said Jimenez-Hernandez of Lincoln’s Artist Exchange Program.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, who was a star of the Broadway musical “In the Heights” and has helped start a suicide prevention program in Brooklyn, said that the program is very innovative and takes into a account the lives that many artists lead.

“What is fantastic about this program is that it is really created taking into account the life of an artist.” Miranda said. “These are non binding agreements. You donate you time and you donate your services in exchange for medical care which is something that many, many artists all over the city and all of the country don’t have. It could be anything from a dance recital to a yoga class to an art class.”

A good aspect of the program is that it affords the artist needed flexibility, as many artist require flexible hours so they can do things like attend auditions as they are called, Miranda stated.

“The fact that you can tailor your time with the hospital in exchange for much needed medical care is really innovative and I think it is a win-win for the hospital, and a win-win for the artist community particularly in the Bronx, the birthplace of Hip Hop.”

Lincoln Hospital has gone the distance in addressing medical care needs of Bronx artists, Scott said. The program should not just benefit the artists involved, but also the patients and health care community with everyone coming “from their own center of strength,” Scott stated.

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