The Master of Public Health program and the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University will examine growing concerns over emerging public health issues in the suburbs in a one-day symposium, “Health Equity in the Changing American Suburbs,” on Thursday, Oct. 22, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., in 246 East Library Wing, Axinn Library, South Campus.
The suburbs, particularly on Long Island, typically evoke images of affluent, safe neighborhoods, but within many of these communities are segregated pockets of poverty that are under-resourced and often unacknowledged, notes Martine Hackett, PhD, an assistant professor in the Master of Public Health program in the School of Health Professions and Human Services and a key organizer of the symposium.
“Significant public health issues ranging from mental health and substance abuse to gun control and climate change present unique challenges in outreach, raising awareness, and delivering services,” she said. “It’s my goal that the symposium participants understand that health care, disease prevention, and health promotion need to be considered from a suburban point of view, especially with minority communities in mind.”
The symposium also marks the formal launch of the MPH and NCSS’s collaborative Suburban Health Equity Institute, which promotes research on these issues by faculty and students across several disciplines – including medicine, public health, law, education, sociology, sustainability, and business.
“The suburbs are facing many challenges that used to be thought of as urban, and one of them is delivering healthcare,” said Lawrence Levy, executive dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies. “We have found that the suburban poor, particularly new immigrants, are experiencing uneven and inequitable health outcomes. Some of the reasons are related to governmental fragmentation and high levels of social isolation due to racial and economic segregation that are distinctly suburban. The Suburban Health Equity Institute will provide specifically focused research, on both a local and national scale, that will serve as a basis for designing effective solutions.”
The Institute is operating with help from grants by the Dolan Family Foundation and the Foundation for Innovations in Medical Education.
Participating organizations at the symposium include the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health, Nassau and Suffolk counties’ Departments of Health, North Shore-LIJ Health System, Family and Children’s Association, Hispanic Counseling Center, New York Institute of Technology, Adelphi University, and John Jay College, in addition to Hofstra experts from the Department of Health Professions, on-campus Saltzman Community Services Center, and the MPH student organization, the Society of Public Health Advocates.
The full schedule includes five panels:
Panel I – Hot Topics in Suburban Health Roundtable 9:30-11 a.m. Experts in suburban health will discuss several current issues such as gun control, Medicaid redesign and immigration, and highlight their relevance to suburban populations.
Panel II – The Challenges of Aging in Place in the Suburbs 11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Panel III – Lunch and Digital Storytelling Screening 12:45-2 p.m. This panel features the screening of several videos created by local residents that represent their views on health equity on Long Island. The videos were created during a three-day workshop with community members including teens and seniors last summer, led by Professor Hackett.
Panel IV – Suburban Substance Abuse: Problems and Promise 2:20-3:45 p.m.
Panel V – Stress, Stigma and Mental Health Services 4-5:30 p.m., with closing remarks at 5:30 p.m.
Co-sponsored by the Hofstra Culture Center, the event is free and open to the public, but requires advance registration. For more information and to register, please contact the Cultural Center at 516-463-5669.