Somas honors Anthony Ciampa’s advocacy for Latino healthcare

Anthony Ciampa, RN at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and NYSNA Board Member, was honored at the Somos El Futuro spring conference held in Albany on March 21. The conference theme, “Leading a New Generation of Change, Opportunity, Progress and Success,” brought together state and city legislators, faith leaders and community activists to tackle challenges facing New York’s growing Latino community and to find ways to develop the next generation of Latino leaders. The award recognized Ciampa’s advocacy to improve healthcare access and delivery within the hospital’s predominantly Latino Washington Heights neighborhood.

NY’s growing Latino population

Ciampa spoke at the conference’s panel of experts on Latino health and mental health issues. Latinos (Hispanics) now account for 28.3 percent of New York City’s population and 17.6 percent of the state’s. Historically, they have faced significant barriers to accessing affordable health insurance and remain considerably more likely to be uninsured than others (30.7 percent of Hispanics under the age of 65 currently lack health insurance, compared with the national average of 16 percent and 11.6 percent of non-Hispanic whites). Furthermore, the CDC reports Hispanics are twice as likely as non-Hispanic blacks and three-times as likely as non-Hispanic whites to lack a regular healthcare provider.

Healthcare challenges

These barriers have contributed to significant health disparities. Hispanics experience higher incidences of preventable diseases and untreated chronic conditions, among them: cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, chronic liver disease, chronic lower respiratory disease, perinatal conditions, and influenza/pneumonia.

Ciampa credited the ACA and the work of local organizers in helping to shrink the insurance gap by enrolling low-income Latinos in free or low-cost plans such as Child Health Plus and Medicaid. He encouraged attendees to “keep raising awareness of Latino health issues through the media, community networks, and churches,” and to find ways to conduct more frequent health screenings in the community as a way to both “draw Latinos into the care delivery system and improve their health care status.”

As an example of how to tackle a challenge, Ciampa spoke about the campaign to improve chronically excessive patient wait times at New York-Presbyterian’s Emergency Room. Although a major frustration for patients and staff alike, appeals to management have failed to generate needed changes. Ciampa, his coworkers, and community activists enlisted the help of NYS Senator Adriano Espaillat (D, 31) to draft and introduce legislation that would require hospitals to post information regarding the length of time a patient can expect to wait before receiving care. The bill (S4308-2015) is currently in the Senate’s Health Committee; NYSNA RNs attending Lobby Day on April 21 should urge legislative support for its passage.

Call to action

Ciampa also called for safe staffing ratios and legislative support of NYSNA’s campaign for quality care. He urged increased community awareness of DSRIP (Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment), and emphasized the need for close scrutiny of applications to ensure appropriate allocation of funds: “We need to police the healthcare providers’ application process to make sure that their plans do not take away from increasing the safe and efficient care DSRIP was intended to foster, and we must demand more opportunities to provide public input to the Department of Health.”

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