Borough President Diaz looks to improve public health

Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. works out, and he is encouraging exercise and healthy living with his #Not62 social media campaign.
Photo courtesy of Borough President Diaz’s office

Social media savvy Bronxites now have a new way to communicate about healthy eating and living.

The borough was ranked last out of 62 counties in New York State in overall health in a yearly Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin study for the sixth straight year, based on a report released last week.

Now Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. is looking to draw attention to a social media campaign about health called #Not62 that he spoke about in his most recent State of the Borough address in February.

Diaz is encouraging his constituents to use the hashtag #Not62 on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, to share photos and stories of working out, healthy eating, and to facilitate a discussion of how to create healthier communities.

The hope is to create momentum to lift the borough out of the cellar when it comes to its health outcomes and factors, including fewer preventable hospital stays, improved food environment, fewer premature deaths, and a drop in sexually transmitted disease.

The borough president has formed a partnership with Montefiore and the city Department of Health, among others, to build on the smaller successes in the rankings, which saw the borough improve in 2015 when compared to 2014.

“I am encouraged by the tremendous borough wide partnerships working together to address our borough’s health rankings,” said Diaz. “We are fortunate to have the commitment of partners like the Bronx Health Reach and the CUNY Institute for Health Equity, in addition to the partners named here, to launch #Not62.”

Diaz said in remarks before the City Island Civic Association on Tuesday, March 24 that he was not looking to see all Bronxites become body-builders, but that he would like to see the borough move up in the health rankings in the next 3 to 5 years, indicating that moving the borough to being the 61st ranked would be an achievement.

With all of the growth the borough is now experiences, Diaz said that staying healthy could help ensure that all of his constituents are able to fully take part in all of the positive developments.

The city DOH has launched the Bronx District Public Health Office, part of a new intuitive called the Center for Health Equity.

“The health disparities that arise in the Bronx are a reminder that we need to do more to address the health needs of populations that face the most significant social, economic, and health challenges,” said Dr. Mary Bassett, DOH commissioner. “With our partners in both the public and private sector, we have started to see improvements in some key areas, including Health Department programs designed to promote a healthier environment for school aged children.”

The Bronx did not rank last in all of the categories measured in the study, but still in relatively poor health when compared to Manhattan and Queens, which both ranked in the top-half of counties, according to published reports.

The borough’s largest health-care provider, Montefiore, is joining in the “call to action,” as its president, Dr. Stephen Safyer, called the efforts. He cited generation-spanning socio-economic obstacles that need to be overcome.

At another of the borough’s largest medical facilities, Jacobi Medical Center, nutrition manager Jennifer Charette said that small lifestyle changes can lead to big changes over time.

Diaz remains optimistic that the borough’s people will make steps towards a healthier future.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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