Social Work Today: CISWH Executive Director Ellie Zambrano & Kristina Whiton-O’Brien (SSW’95) Urge Social Workers to Promote Civic Health

Civic health is directly related to physical health. In this op-ed by CISWH Executive Director Ellie Zambrano & Kristina Whiton-O’Brien from VotER, see why social workers should register clients to vote.

Excerpt from “Health Care Social Workers Can Help Patients by Registering Them to Vote” by Ellie Zambrano & Kristina Whiton-O’Brien:

“Research has shown that civic health engagement builds physically healthier communities with higher life expectancies, increased employment rates, improved schools, and revitalized neighborhoods. And it’s correlated with voter participation. In the 2018 New York City mayoral election, East Harlem had a 35% lower voter turnout rate compared with citywide turnout. The life expectancy in East Harlem is decades lower than surrounding voting precincts.

Doctors, nurses, and social workers often see patients who are not only experiencing physical symptoms, but who are also hungry, inadequately housed, or lacking medical coverage or resources to treat their chronic or acute illnesses. Health care workers and health care social workers can directly impact civic health engagement by taking an active role in registering those patients to vote. Increasing voter registration rates increases community connections, involvement in problem-solving, and participation in decision-making. It gives patients a voice in shaping the policies that drive inequities and health disparities.

Voting and civic health engagement are nonpartisan tools providers can use to uplift communities, improve the wellness of all people, and promote community involvement in future decision-making after the devastation of a global pandemic.”

Read the full article here.

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The Heller School: CISWH Board Member Explains How Pandemics Threaten U.S. Lives, Health Systems, & Economic Stability

CISWH Board member A.K. Nandakumar, professor of the Practice, director of the MS Program in Global Health Policy and Management, and the Institute for Global Health and Development recently conducted a Q&A with The Heller School for Social Policy and Management on “COVID Relief Programs Have Resulted in Skyrocketing Global Debt.

The United States have seen an overwhelming increase in debt as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Nandakumar, this increase means that “the fiscal space that you have to invest in social programs and economic growth shrinks, which has huge ramifications on labor markets, on economic growth, on the cost and price of things.” Nandakumar calls for our current administration to keep our communities safe by supporting the reopening of schools and bringing people back to work through strong policy interventions. 

Excerpt from “COVID Relief Programs Have Resulted in Skyrocketing Global Debt:”

“We are an incredibly globally interconnected economy, so labor and supply chain issues that take place in India or China, for example, impact the cost of commodities in the U.S. People now have a lot of money that they want to spend, but supply is not keeping up with demand, so prices go up. This disproportionately impacts the pocketbooks of marginalized and vulnerable populations. Groceries, rents, back to school supplies, home appliances are all costing a lot more. Used car prices are up 40 to 50 percent. These are essentials. In all probability the wage gains made by those in the lower income groups have been more than wiped out by inflation.”

Read the full article here.

CISWH Awarded Grant to Improve Emergency Medical Response to Children with Complex Health Needs

Children and youth with complex health needs (CCN) are specifically and disproportionately impacted by system breakdowns during widespread emergencies. To address these issues on the state level, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has awarded The Center for Innovation in Social Work and Health (CISWH) at BUSSW a $250,000 grant for their project, “Building Capacity in Emergency Preparedness & Response with Family Partners of Children with Complex Needs in Pennsylvania.” The project will identify and correct deficiencies in emergency preparedness and response, not only for vulnerable CCNs, but also their families and pediatric emergency medical service providers in Pennsylvania. 

“We are so pleased and excited to receive this award focused on emerging issues in child and maternal health,” says CISWH Executive Director Eleanor Zambrano. “We see this as an opportunity for CISWH to demonstrate the importance of community and family engagement in addressing system-of-care needs for all. This is about social work principles such as inclusion, equity, and integrating a collective approach into healthcare practices. CISWH will continue to look for opportunities like this that are mission driven through leadership and workforce development, as well as strengthening strategic partnerships.”

Partnering EMS Responders with CNN Family Caregivers

Emergency medical service (EMS) responders and CCN family caregivers are the two key frontline workforces in a public health emergency. This project will partner EMS responders with family caregivers of CNNs. As a result, system breakdowns and widespread emergencies will be met with in-the-moment protection to CCNs in their home and community, securing their health and safety. 

Creating Effective, Sustainable Tools & Training

The project will focus on workforce development and strategic partnerships at the state and community levels. The primary aim is to build shared capacity of family-led organizations, Pennsylvania government partners, and the emergency medical service to strengthen both the workforces of family caregivers of CCN and pediatric EMS responders. The lead team will work with key partners to:

  • Co-develop a toolkit and training package
  • Conduct a pilot co-led community training
  • Build collaborative and operational sustainability around developed resources

Assembling a Lead Team of Qualified Professionals & Researchers

The team will convene a cross-sector, statewide Advisory Board to meet regularly to provide high-level guidance on the project, and to consider aligned state-level priorities in this arena that could morph into a coalition.