The field practicum is designed to enable two-year masters students to function in public sector and community health settings through a supervised field placement. Read on for a glimpse into one of our masters student’s projects.
Araceli Gutierrez, SM2
Bromley Heath Community Health Survey Initiative (BHCHSI), Jamaica Plain, MA
As a 2013 Rappaport Public Policy Fellow, this summer I had the opportunity to work with Representative Jeffrey Sánchez, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health. I based my SBS Practicum on this experience and sought to obtain a practical understanding of the social and political mechanisms involved in addressing the public health challenges in underserved and vulnerable communities. In addition, my goal was to explore potential upstream approaches that may be utilized in achieving equitable health outcomes and establishing effective cost-containment strategies and organizational roles in the public sector at all levels of the healthcare infrastructure within the context of Massachusetts Health Reform efforts and the Affordable Care Act. To this end, I conducted a coordinated and participatory mixed-method viability evaluation and assessment, in which I organized, developed, piloted and administered a bilingual comprehensive community health assessment survey among residents at the Boston Housing Authority’s (BHA) Bromley-Heath public housing development in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts.
Through the Bromley Heath Community Health Survey Initiative (BHCHSI), we have collected over 227 surveys to date and counting, surpassing our original goal of 200. The objective is to utilize the findings from this preliminary assessment in concurrence with other available public agency information to establish a framework aimed at improving living and health conditions for Bromley Heath residents as well as broaden the investment of larger patient-centered community-based solutions. Our work will also help inform policy makers as healthcare delivery models and payment systems are being designed. Our primary concern is to improve health outcomes for the most underserved and vulnerable communities in Massachusetts.
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With respect to health, place matters and housing shapes place within a city. The conditions of this unit were deemed uninhabitable upon BHA’s annual unit inspection.
The tenants, in need of physical and mental health care and social services, were transferred to a new Bromley-Heath housing unit. While tenants were also referred to appropriate resources, the root cause of these conditions and inequities go unaddressed and remain a major area of concern.
Receiving mail in some of the buildings presents problems for some Bromley-Heath residents. Mailboxes are frequently vandalized and broken into. Monthly benefit checks are stolen among other valuable pieces of correspondence. This problem challenges a continuous and dependable mode of communication for those who do not have internet access.
The impact of Federal cuts through sequestration among other budget cutting measures has had a direct impact on operating budgets, which affects maintaining vandalized and deteriorating conditions of an antiquated housing stock.
Per BHA 2012 statistics, the Bromley-Heath housing development is home to approximately 1,880 residents, of which, 58% are adults and 42% are children. While statistics are essential, it is invaluable to personally meet and get to know residents, their families and their personal stories beyond demographic statistics.
Marina, a high school summer intern, leads a coding session and discussion outlining themes that emerge from the responses to the open-ended questions contained in the Bromley-Heath Community Health Survey.
The goal of the Boston Children’s Hospital Playground Project was to provide a safe playground for children that would promote a healthy lifestyle and strengthen community bonds. Public Safety Officials have commented that the presence of the playground is acting as a crime deterrent due to the large number of small children that frequent the playground. Despite this, two weeks after the playground’s inaugural ceremony, a shooting took place on the adjacent basketball courts.
The Bromley Heath Family Day had the largest resident attendance and participation than any other Bromley-Heath community event. The goal is to maintain this level of resident interest and participation throughout the year.
The Boston Fire Department (BFD) maintain a strong presence as Community Outreach Partners in Bromley-Heath by participating in community events. BFD stress the value of exposing children and youth to positive role models from a very early age.
Police officers from the Boston Police Department (BPD) arrive at the Bromley Heath Annual Family Day event in the official BPD “Operation Hoodsie Cup” vehicle.