A Healthier Bronx

The Bronx has the highest levels of diabetes, hepatitis, asthma, and hypertension in the entire city, and as a County ranks 62nd, dead last, in the state for residents’ health. All of these pre-existing conditions, combined with the Bronx’s high percentage of working-class people, led to the Bronx suffering the highest death rate from COVID-19. We need an immediate intervention on multiple levels to reverse the trends impacting our communities. Our residents need better access to preventative care, affordable prescription drugs, access to locally sourced healthy food, and resources for mental health and substance abuse issues that have exploded during the pandemic.

With a background in healthcare administration, Council Member Salamanca knows that health significantly overlaps with our daily routines. Our housing, food, local air and water quality, job stress, and other factors all impact our personal health, and as we look at health police, we need to understand the interaction of all these factors. COVID has forced community members, elected officials and members of the media, alike, to examine the underlying conditions that have led to the disparate impact of how the virus affects different communities. As someone who suffers from asthma, it comes as no surprise to Salamanca that many of these factors date back to Robert Moses’ often racist urban planning.

While we need to address all those conditions that affect our health, access to quality healthcare continues to be a huge issue for so many throughout the borough. Salamanca has secured over $30 million to fund hospitals and clinics, including $20 million for a new Urban Health Plan clinic on Southern Boulevard. Partnering with Lincoln Hospital, Salamanca allocated $4 million to complete a state-of-the-art radiology suite, a stereotactic breast biopsy system, and the complete overhaul of the hospital’s nurse call bell system.

So much of living a healthy lifestyle involves maintaining a nutritious and well-balanced diet and a daily exercise regimen.  An active participant in the #Not62 campaign, a push to raise the Bronx’s last-place standing among the State’s 62 counties, Salamanca is the leading sponsor of the Health Bucks Program, which provides vouchers to New Yorkers to purchase healthy, fresh foods at farmer’s markets. He delivered $10 million to improve playgrounds and park spaces. If we are going to ask our fellow Bronxites to maintain an active lifestyle, we must ensure our parks are welcoming spaces for members of the community.

Unfortunately, opioid addiction is playing a significant role in the health of the borough, specifically the South Bronx. Working with Council Member Diana Ayala, Salamanca secured $8 million to combat the epidemic with an increased emphasis on social workers and peer advocates during first responder calls and connecting Bronxites with addiction treatment.

Salamanca's Plan for a Healthier Bronx

Like many issues impacting our borough, our health and wellbeing face intersectional challenges beyond simply going to a doctor’s office. Salamanca knows that creating a healthier Bronx requires a comprehensive approach to the root causes of the presence of disease and negative health outcomes. With that in mind, Salamanca will find collaborative, comprehensive strategies and provide intersectional solutions to environmental, mental health, and food insecurity issues that impact health outcomes.

We have seen the ramifications of failing to invest in public health. Rafael will work to expand access to healthcare resources in the South Bronx by:

                 Educating the public on key things they can do to be healthier, including having an annual physical, exercising, and healthy eating

                 Increasing the number of primary care clinics and urgent care centers

                 Funding mobile healthcare clinics

                 Expanding access to telemedicine

                 Tackling food insecurity

Gun Violence

Gun violence is a public health crisis, and we must treat it as such. Rafael will work with community organizations using Cure Violence methods like SNUG and partners with groups like Good Shepherd Services or Save Our Streets South Bronx that emphasize violence reduction. We must do more to prevent youth-on-youth violence that often escalates to shootings.

Mental Health

Slowly but surely our society is addressing the stigma surrounding mental health and making positive strides to expand access to mental health resources and bring those who are struggling out of the shadows. Rafael will:

                 Ensure that mental health professionals are included The Bronx’ first responders.

                 Educate communities to further destigmatize mental health care

                 Develop a plan with local community organizations to increase access to mental health care

                 Demand a social worker in every school

                 Reallocate Thrive funding to more effective programs that provide mental health care and meet the needs of homeless NYers

Addiction and the Opioid Epidemic

While it has fallen further into the shadows, the opioid epidemic has grown far worse during coronavirus pandemic. Rafael will convene health professionals, neighborhood organizations, and community leaders to develop a ground-level approach to get people the care they need and prevent more people from becoming addicted to these drugs.

                 Allocate funding for peer-to-peer programs, like BOOM!Health

                 Setting up a secure medication drop box for people looking to dispose of leftover medication they don’t need

                 Working with the District Attorney to ensure more criminal defendants who are fighting addiction are diverted into treatment programs instead of incarcerated

                 Expand access to Narcan to prevent overdose deaths


For many people, gym memberships are too expensive. Parks and walkways are a great option for people looking to exercise, and Rafael will:

                 Work to highlight all free gym equipment found in parks, and pedestrian lanes that are friendly to cyclists, runners, and walkers alike. It will be available online and updated periodically.

                 Partner with community organizations to host a monthly exercise class free of charge.

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