Identifies barriers to care in the City’s eleven most underserved areas

View the Primary Care Initiative Report (pdf)

New York, September 22nd, 2008- In a major development stemming from her 2007 State of the City address, Speaker Christine C. Quinn, unveiled a groundbreaking report of the state of Primary Care in the City. The Speaker was joined by Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) Senior Vice President LaRay Brown, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Assistant Commissioner Louise Cohen and Rima Cohen of the Mayor’s Office.

The report, entitled, Primary Care Initiative Community Health Assessment highlights eleven communities in the city that face the most significant shortages of primary care services in addition to pinpointing healthcare services that are in need of improvement and expansion in local clinics.

“One of the most important and responsible ways we can improve healthcare is to provide access to quality preventive care, so that no one feels the emergency room is their only option,” said Speaker Quinn. “This report reveals specific barriers New Yorkers face in accessing basic care and we must now use this data and information as a guide to improve healthcare. We will be taking significant steps to guarantee improvements at clinics so that anyone who needs healthcare, has access to it. I want to thank HHC, DOHMH, PCDC and the working groups for their participation in this study.”

In 2007, Council Speaker Quinn announced a commitment to develop additional primary care capacity to neighborhoods where there is a shortage of primary care services. Following her announcement, a working group of advocates, providers and experts formed to conduct a community health assessment in these neighborhoods

The research discovered eleven communities that are most in need of primary care:

North Brooklyn (East Williamsburg, Bushwick and Beford Stuyvesant)
Central Brooklyn (Brownsville, Crown Heights, East New York and New Lots)
Flatbush (Flatbush and Ditmas Park)
South Bronx (Mott Haven, Melrose, Highbridge and Morrisania)
Central Bronx (University Heights, East Tremont, Fordham)
Manhattan (East Harlem and Central Harlem)
Manhattan (Lower East Side and Chinatown)
Western Queens (Corona, Jackson Heights, Woodside, Elmhurst, LeFrak City, Astoria and Long Island City)
Southeast Queens (South Jamaica, Hollis, St. Albans and Springfield Gardens)
Far Rockaway (Far Rockaway and Edgemere)
Staten Island (All of Staten Island)
Within these communities, five barriers to accessing healthcare were identified:

Waiting room times were too long (42.7% of respondents gave this reason);
Residents needed an appointment to see a doctor sooner than the time offered (31.3%);
Doctors or nurses did not spend enough time with them (23.6%);
Residents cannot afford the bill (20%); and
Doctors or nurses did not listen carefully enough (20%).
Of those surveyed 49.7% reported dentists are the most difficult type of provider to find. 30% said finding a doctor or nurse to go to for basic health care needs was hard to find while 22% said pediatricians are lacking in their area. Additionally, 17% feel there’s a shortage of prenatal care/OB-GYN’s and 15% of participants indicated they experienced that a difficulty in accessing in mental health services

In order to address these issues effectively, the City Council has proposed an expansion of primary care capacity in the eleven identified communities. The Council will also convene public forums in each borough in the coming weeks so that residents may express specific concerns and problems in accessing healthcare. Later this year DOHMH will issue a request for proposals (RFP) for distributing funding to local providers serving the targeted communities. The forums will give people a chance to comment on DOHMH’s concept paper, which outlines the upcoming RFP.

“Having a regular doctor is critical to staying healthy,” said Louise Cohen, Deputy Commissioner for Health Care Access and Improvement at the Health Department. “We know that too many New Yorkers are missing out on life-saving preventive services because they don’t have a primary care provider, or don’t get the attention they need at their doctor’s office. We are proud to be a part of this effort to help all New Yorkers get better primary care and improve health in the city.”

“We commend Council Speaker Quinn and the Task Force on Primary Care for issuing this report that reveal from those most affected that lower-income and minority communities simply are not getting the primary care services that they so desperately need and deserve,” said Ronda

Kotelchuck, Executive Director of the Primary Care Development Corporation. “The recommendations – including promoting patient-centered care, reducing appointment and wait times, and improving staff capacity, infrastructure, and financial performance -are critical to building a robust primary care sector that can improve health, save money, and reduce disparities. We are further pleased and impressed with the Mayor’s and City Council’s commitment to provide resources to fix primary care. We look forward to learning more about

communities’ primary care experiences at upcoming forums, and working with stakeholders to accomplish these critical goals.”

This assessment was conducted by the Health and Hospitals Corporation and the Primary Care Initiative Workgroup which included telephone surveys, field surveys and focus groups of more than 3,000 people in multiple languages.