Columbia University Medical Center

Northern Manhattan Responds To The Uninsured Crisis By Launching Groundbreaking Online Tool To Improve Uninsured New Yorkersï¾’ Access To Health And Social Services

Health Information Tool for Empowerment—“HITE”—revolutionizes the way case managers link the
uninsured with health and social services

NEW YORK, NY, May 3, 2005—The Greater New York Hospital Foundation (GNYHF) and the Northern Manhattan Community Voices Collaborative at Columbia University Medical Center will launch on May 5, 2005, the Health Information Tool for Empowerment (HITE)—the first and only online directory that connects uninsured and under-insured New Yorkers with available resources. Millions of uninsured and under-insured individuals are struggling to afford the services they need and are unaware of free or low-cost health care options in their community. In Harlem and Washington Heights, approximately 150,000 people—33% of the population of this region—are uninsured, which is far above the national and statewide averages. With a click of the mouse, HITE provides users with information about thousands of free and low-cost programs and services. All of this information is available to health and social service professionals working with low-income clients in one free, easy-to-use directory, at www.hitesite.org.

“Before HITE, there was no central clearinghouse—paper or Web-based—that identified all the government, non-profit, and private sector resources available to uninsured individuals,” said Kenneth E. Raske, president of Greater New York Hospital Association, of which GNYHF is a subsidiary. “Thanks to HITE, millions of uninsured and under-insured New Yorkers will learn about valuable programs and services available to them in their own communities.”

HITE users can search for resources by zip code, services offered, medical conditions treated, and languages spoken. Within seconds, HITE identifies a variety of programs and organizations that meet each uninsured client’s unique needs. Additionally, HITE has an eligibility calculator that quickly determines if a person is likely to qualify for one of New York State’s public health insurance programs.

“Health and social service professionals face enormous daily time pressures,” said GYNHF Vice President Rima Cohen.
“HITE’s goal is to enhance their ability to meet the complicated needs of their uninsured clients, and ultimately increase the health and well-being of uninsured and underinsured New Yorkers.”

On Thursday, May 5th, Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation (NMIC) will be participating in the HITE kick-off training event. For twenty-five years NMIC social service department has provided case management, referrals, and social services to formerly homeless families relocating to permanent housing, residents of Washington Heights and Inwood, families with children with lead paint poisoning and victims of domestic violence. On Thursday the staff of this agency will be implementing the tool as part of the services they provide. “Our agency is committed to serving the thousands of people who live in the community and have no health insurance, this online tool will make navigating the healthcare system and wide array of social services so much easier and efficient.” said Maria Lizardo, director of Social Services at NMIC. “Not only will the provider’s job be made easier, but our constituents will benefit tremendously from this new online tool.”

“NMIC has been a haven for thousands of newly immigrant families,” said Jacqueline Martinez, director of Northern Manhattan Community Voices Collaborative at Columbia University Medical Center. “It is fitting that the HITE initiative will be launched in this organization and be used to strengthen their role of social service providers in northern Manhattan”

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The Northern Manhattan Community Voices Collaborative (NMCVC) is a partnership of more than 35 institutions, community-based organizations, and local health care providers working to improve the overall health of the northern Manhattan community by addressing the problems of the uninsured and underinsured in Central Harlem and Washington Heights-Inwood in an integrated and innovative fashion. Northern Manhattan Community Voices is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and is one of 8 national learning laboratories working to improve health care access under the Foundation’s Community Voices: Health Care for the Underserved initiative.

Greater New York Hospital Association is a trade association representing more than 250 not-for-profit hospitals and continuing care facilities, both voluntary and public, in the metropolitan area and throughout the State, as well as in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

Greater New York Hospital Foundation is a not-for-profit affiliate of GYNHA that was established in 1978 to conduct research and carry out special projects that provide innovative solutions to pressing health care problems.

The Center for Community Health Partnerships serves as a catalyst for creating academic-community partnerships that improve the health of the community and for developing new knowledge in community-participatory research to better understand health care disparities. It achieves its objectives by addressing health care problems of the uninsured and underinsured in northern Manhattan, providing direct medical and dental services to the elderly in Harlem, conducting research and developing community partnerships aimed at improving the health of Latinos and African-Americans, increasing the cultural competency of health care professionals, and by offering technical assistance to 15 dental schools to increase access to oral health care services and access to careers in dentistry for underrepresented minority students. The Center is the home for Northern Manhattan Community Voices.

Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, pre-clinical and clinical research, medical education, and health care. The medical center trains future leaders in health care and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, nurses, dentists, and other health professionals at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, the School of Dental & Oral Surgery, the School of Nursing, the Mailman School of Public Health, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. With a strong history of some of the most important advances and discoveries in health care, its researchers are leading the development of novel therapies and advances to address a wide range of health conditions. www.cumc.columbia.edu

Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation (NMIC) is a community based not-for-profit organization founded to serve the Washington Heights and Inwood communities. For the past 25 years, NMIC’s services have formed a critical link to overall stability of these rapidly growing and changing low-income immigrant communities. Our client-centered programs minimize evictions; maximize improvement to the housing stock; provide education and training to increase employment opportunities; support families with child care, case management and domestic violence services; and give residents a greater voice in the decisions that affect their lives.

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