Over the past two months, we have witnessed people across the globe reeling from COVID-19’s impact. We feel it deeply in New York City and in the communities we serve. We are concerned about our clients, almost all of whom are elderly, low-income, minority, and are living with a host of chronic conditions. They are at highest risk of mortality from this pandemic. At the same time, we are fiercely protective of our frontline health coaches, who live in the communities they serve, and must safely go home to their own families. All of our lives are deeply interlinked, and COVID-19 has brought this truth into sharp focus:

We need to double down on keeping our vulnerable neighbors safe, starting with our at-risk seniors:

The communities we serve are grappling with multiple threats to their security. Our clients often live either alone or with large families (both circumstances pose a challenge), and often depend upon teams of caregivers to support their independence. They need the deep bonds they have forged with our frontline teams more than ever.

We need to step up into the gap of primary care that is emerging wherever health systems are overwhelmed:

Doctors, nurses and other health workers are working on behalf of all of us to care for hospitalized patients. As a result, regular medical care has been drastically reduced. That means that when a patient develops an acute exacerbation of an underlying chronic condition, such as an asthma attack or heart attack, they will have to choose between venturing to the ED or suffering, and increasingly dying, at home. While the move to expand telehealth options is long overdue, this mode of access is poorly utilized by our low-income, elderly clients. This is pushing us all to think of safe and innovative ways for our frontline teams to support them.

We’re committed to the health and vitality of our clients and our teams.

We’re stepping up for our clients:

  • Moving from in-person visits to remote health coaching engagements, starting with client relationships we have, and building new trusted relationships moving forward. Our teams are coming up with innovative ways to ensure we achieve the health outcomes we’re proud of delivering during this time.
  • We are partnering with New York City’s major organizations and health systems to build highly scalable remote engagement centers to identify new clients and provide health coaching support to people who need it most, now. We are working more deeply with existing partners and building new ones every day.
  • We are rapidly developing solutions for clients that do not currently have viable primary care options. Our clients need both care and support in meeting their basic needs. This is an opportunity to make sure that we don’t do one without the other.

City Health Works is committed to our teams:

We are working every day to ensure that we can expand, rather than contract during this challenging period. We are proud of our frontline health coaches and our organizational teams for their creativity, improvisation, client focus, and relentless drive to provide safe, quality and evidence-based support in a rapidly evolving crisis. Our teams are leading us to new solutions that can rise to this difficult challenge.

The only way forward is together, aided by old wisdom, new solutions, and generous hearts.