Einstein med students start podcast on health and transportation

Bronx One Policy Group Einstein medical students (Left to right) Tim Liang , Alexander Levine, Ashley Castillo, Olivia Howell, Ali Kalam and Nupur Shridhar .
Courtesy of Alex Levine

As the Bronx is known for high numbers in obesity, diabetes and asthma, many elected officials and residents are looking for ways to improve the health of the borough.

Among those people is Alex Levine, a third year medical student at Albert Einstein. Levine launched a podcast, Healthy Bronx last September with a few classmates, centered on preventive medicine and transportation. So far there have been 13 episodes.  They also created Bronx One Policy Group, which is a policy writing and advocacy organization.

Their most recent one was April 13 and the topic of discussion was capping the Cross Bronx Expressway. This has been a hot item in the news as Congressman Ritchie Torres has called for this to be included in President Joe Biden’s proposed $2 trillion infrastructure plan.

Levine, 29, of Morris Park, told the Bronx Times he has had people from the Borough President’s Office, Nilka Martell, founder of Loving the Bronx and Emily Nadal from Mott Haven Herald/Hunts Point Express on the podcasts.

“We’re medical students and we wanted to create an organization that tries to use our medical school and the hospital, which is Montefiore and connect with the local community, but also create health policy,” Levine said. “We try to tell interesting stories pertaining to health in the Bronx.”

Levine, a Connecticut native, who went to Fordham University, has been passionate about preventive medicine for a long time. In fact, in college he interned at the Department of City Planning in the Bronx.

Emily Nadal (with microphone), writer for Hunts Point Express, Mott Haven Herald and CUNY Newmark Graduate Journalism School masters student
Nilka Martell, community and environmental activist/organizer, founder of #LovingtheBronx Courtesy of Tim Liang

According to Levine, the goal is to focus on community engagement, writing policy and podcasts.

Levine explained that the group’s primary goal is advocating for the capping of the Cross Bronx. The six and half mile highway was built by Robert Moses, which many including Levine, associate with environmental racism, as it cuts through the Bronx filling the borough with smog and many pollutants.

He pointed out that the Cross Bronx also attributes to lack of walkability in neighborhoods and high obesity. If it’s capped off, green space can be built and people can feel healthier, Levine stressed.

“When you think of preventive medicine this impacts everyone’s life” he said. “If we can get a small portion of this capped then it might be a catalyst to happen on the rest of the highway. This is a project that can save money and lives. We really want to use our voices as students and push this project along.”

As many Bronxites are uninsured or have poor insurance on top of their health problems, capping the highway could be a big boost, he commented.

Other items discussed on the podcasts include making the bridges in the Bronx bike accessible, the Triboro subway proposal, which would create a new line bypassing Manhattan and improving east/west bus service in the Bronx.

Levine hopes to continue with the podcasts and advocacy even after he finishes medical school.

“This is an investment in everyday life,” he stated.