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Making Your #Right2Health a Reality

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AMPHS wants to hear from you this holiday season!

Between now and the end of the year, take a few minutes to write about the health and wellness needs of your community. What barriers are you or someone you know currently experiencing in the pursuit of a healthy life? Are you having any trouble accessing quality care? What kinds of health and wellness services do you feel would improve the lives of the people in your community, your family?

Share your story or idea by emailing us at nicholas.maistros@amphsonline.org or by tagging us and posting your message to Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #Right2Health. Please, protect the privacy of your subjects by removing any identifying information.

At the beginning of the new year, we will aggregate your messages and use them to tailor our services, making your #Right2Health a reality!

AMPHS’ Action Plan: Bridging the Healthcare Gap in Uncertain Times

Academy of Medical and Public Health Services

In anticipation of the incoming administration, we at AMPHS are maximizing our efforts to protect the rights of our immigrant community members and to make health and wellness accessible to those in need.

This is our plan:

  1. Provide free health and disease prevention services to the New Yorkers who might lose health insurance or be excluded from the healthcare system in 2017.
  2. Educate immigrant communities about their immigration and healthcare rights through Know Your Rights Workshops and street canvasses.
  3. Coordinate care plans for individuals who are left out of the healthcare system and connect them to resources to help them navigate their options.
  4. Assemble pro bono legal service providers to assist immigrants in conducting immigration screenings, securing health insurance, and being represented in immigration proceedings.
  5. Conduct active street outreach to identify community needs and sentiments.
  6. Convene community leaders and members to discuss action roadmaps to protect our community.
  7. Support New York City’s efforts to fight back against threats and coercion against immigrant communities.

No matter the political situation, AMPHS remains devoted to advancing quality healthcare to those in need, regardless of income, insurance, or immigration status. We are here for our immigrant communities.

We Are Here for Our Immigrant Communities

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As with so many other grassroots organizations devoted to human rights and social justice, we at AMPHS are trying to anticipate the consequences of this presidential election. These are uncertain and frightening times—especially for the community members we serve, who are particularly vulnerable to a number of proposed policy changes, both in terms of their healthcare and their immigration status.

In recent years, we’ve seen a great deal of progress on these fronts. Thanks to the tireless efforts of activists across the country and the bravery of those who risked deportation by coming out of the shadows, President Obama unveiled his executive actions on immigration, providing deportation relief and authorization to work for nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants. With the passage of President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act (ACA), barriers to healthcare were beginning to fall, and many who could not previously afford insurance were finally able to realize what we at AMPHS have always deemed a human right—access to quality care.

These successes were not easily won, and their opponents were quick to dismantle them. In June, the Supreme Court, locked in a 4-4 ruling, effectively deemed President Obama’s immigration action unconstitutional. And earlier this month, we saw the election of not only a president but a Congress (and with them the likely appointment of numerous right-leaning federal judges) poised to repeal the ACA and staunch the rights and security of undocumented immigrants and their families.

With these developments, how can we help but feel defeated? All of this progress just to be thrown swiftly back to zero?

But we have to remind ourselves that the political landscape, as turbulent as it seems, is not all that different now than it was when we began our fight. In fact, in many ways, it was worse. We didn’t begin by defending rights already afforded to the marginalized; we began without rights to defend. We began without visibility, without a network of support. We began without a movement.

From the start, AMPHS’ mission was to empower “individuals and communities to create their own local and culturally-sensitive health and wellness paradigms.” And it still is. We were founded on the principles of advancing healthcare to those in need, regardless of income, insurance, or immigration status. It’s what we’ve always done, and we’re learning how to do it better and better every day.

Yes, we may be disappointed, and we may be scared, but this is not a reset. We are not starting from scratch, because from the beginning, we’ve taken nothing for granted. All these years, and what do we have to show for them? We have a stalwart—and a visible—network of support that persists not because of the ACA, not because of DACA or DAPA, not because of any elected official. We have it because we built it ourselves. So we persist, so we continue to build on what we have, and we already have so much. We have each other.

We at AMPHS are closely monitoring these new developments, and we promise to keep our communities informed of their rights and resources. Please go to this link for a list of key updates on AMPHS’ programs and the president-elect’s policies, and do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns. Call us at (212) 256-9036 or email info@amphsonline.org.

We are here for you.


Hewett Chiu

President & CEO, AMPHS

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Healthcare, Immigration, and a Turbulent Political Environment

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Community members rally in Brooklyn, NY, to protect the rights of immigrants.

There are many uncertainties regarding President-elect Trump’s shifting policies on healthcare and immigration. AMPHS is closely monitoring these new developments and will provide updates as we receive them.

Here’s what we know so far.

  • AMPHS will continue to conduct health screenings in Sunset Park. Please contact us at (212) 256-9036 or email at info@amphsonline.org to make an appointment. All of our health services remain free and open to the public regardless of insurance or immigration status.
  • AMPHS is putting a hold on our DACA Ed outreach until further notice. Individuals already enrolled in Fall DACA Ed courses can continue the program for educational advancement purposes. However, they will be discouraged from applying for DACA until we have more information about the President-elect’s plans.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) states that information shared via DACA applications is protected from disclosure to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for the purpose of immigration enforcement proceedings, though USCIS reserves the right to issue a Notice To Appear or referral to ICE should criteria be met. USCIS also states that this policy may change. We do not know whether there will be a move by the new administration to use USCIS information to remove groups that were never targeted for deportation in the past. Past groups targeted for deportation were generally individuals who had been convicted of a crime. Moreover, President-elect Trump’s plan to deport millions of immigrants seems unfeasible in light of his joint proposal to enforce federal cutbacks. Despite this, circumstances are unpredictable at this time.
  • For those who are not currently DACAmented (that is, receiving benefits under the DACA program) we are no longer citing DACA as a pathway to health insurance. Individuals currently DACAmented will still be able to apply for health insurance under PRUCOL, but we are uncertain of future implications.
  • We do not suggest submitting DACA applications or renewals at this time. Applications submitted now can take several months to be processed and will likely not protect the applicant should DACA be eliminated.
  • While the ACA will be difficult to dismantle entirely, the President-elect can immediately target subsidies, the individual mandate, and the employer mandate. Instead of the ACA, President-elect Trump has proposed tax deductions for healthcare premiums, authorization to purchase health insurance across state lines, and block grants for state Medicaid programs. According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, President-elect Trump’s healthcare plans could cost up to $550 billion and result in the loss of coverage for over 20 million people. The President-elect has suggested he would keep some components of the ACA, such as pre-existing condition protections and the option for children to stay on their parents’ insurance plan up to age 26.
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AMPHS marches with NYC Council Immigration Committee Chair Carlos Menchaca.

 

  • The Obama administration has proposed a new rule that would prevent states from withholding Title X federal family planning money from certain recipients for any reason other than the provider’s “ability to deliver services to program beneficiaries in an effective manner.” Under this rule, states will no longer be able to defund Planned Parenthood. The rule will go into effect after a 30-day public comment period.
  • According to Donald Trump’s website, his administration plans to remove thousands of so-called “criminal aliens” in “joint operations with local, state, and federal law enforcement.” However, many local law enforcement agencies have already claimed that they will not aid President-elect Trump’s deportation efforts, including Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. Police departments across the country have shared similar sentiments, as have the mayors of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, Newark, Denver, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Providence, Rhode Island.
  • Donald Trump’s website also states that his administration will “end sanctuary cities,” terminate DACA, and triple the number of ICE agents. And in a recent “60 Minutes” interview, Trump vowed to deport up to 3 million immigrants. Many have argued that these plans are unrealistic and prohibitively expensive, and as already mentioned, many cities have publicly promised to defend against such policies. However, an expansion of ICE and/or more frequent raids is certainly possible. Click here to learn more about how to protect yourself if the police or ICE come to your house.

No matter the political situation, AMPHS remains devoted to advancing quality healthcare to those in need, regardless of income, insurance, or immigration status. We stand in solidarity with our immigrant communities and will work as always to defend the human rights of the most vulnerable.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at (212) 256-9036 or email at info@amphsonline.org. We are here for you.

We Are Hiring!

Neighborhood Outreach Organizer

The Neighborhood Outreach Organizer is responsible for conducting outreach in Sunset Park for AMPHS’ health and immigrant service programs to spread awareness and empower community members to become independent and resource-driven. He or she will spread the word about AMPHS’ services in the field across small businesses and community organizations to enroll individuals in AMPHS’ free programs (including free health screenings and classes) and the DACA Education Initiative (a Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs program aimed at identifying individuals who qualify for DACA to assist them in applying and fulfilling their education requirement for DACA application). The Neighborhood Outreach Organizer reports directly to the Chief of Staff.

 

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Canvass small businesses and community based organizations in Sunset Park in the effort to conduct outreach and presentations to spread awareness about AMPHS programs, services, and government programs
  • Provide culturally-sensitive health education, information and outreach in community-based settings, including, but not exclusive to the AMPHS center, schools, community centers, senior centers, community board meetings, local businesses, shelters, etc.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with the neighborhood stakeholders
  • Coordinate monthly stakeholders meeting for Community Advisory Board

 

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Preference given to candidates with a bachelor’s diploma or higher.
  • Prior outreach, canvassing, or organizing experience preferred.
  • Excellent communication skills, including the ability to listen well, speak articulately in a public setting and use language appropriately.
  • Written and oral fluency in Spanish and English and/or Chinese and English required.
  • Experience working in a multi-cultural setting.
  • Strong knowledge of Sunset Park, Brooklyn through prior experience living or working in the neighborhood.
  • Knowledge of some medical terminology preferred, but not required.
  • Basic computer skills and knowledge in Microsoft Office.

Time Commitment:

  • 15-20 hours per week; weekend availability required.
  • The agreement for this position is effective until June 30, 2017 with the opportunity for renewal thereafter.

 

To Apply

Please submit a copy of your cover letter and resume to personnel.resources@amphsonline.org. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling first-come, first-serve basis until September 30, 2016.

The SCOTUS Ruling: Our Fight Continues

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Immigrant Rights activists demonstrate outside the Supreme Court. Photo: Allison Shelley/Getty Images

On November 20th, 2014, immigrant families across the country gathered to watch President Obama’s prime-time address. “For more than 200 years,” the President began, “our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations. It’s kept us youthful, dynamic, and entrepreneurial. It has shaped our character as a people with limitless possibilities—people not trapped by our past, but able to remake ourselves as we choose. But today, our immigration system is broken—and everybody knows it.”

The President proceeded to unveil his historic Immigration Accountability Executive Action, which included an expansion of the current Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, as well as the creation of a new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program. This executive action would have provided deportation relief and authorization to work for nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants.

While there were still many questions, and though it was certain that opponents would immediately endeavor to block the action, it was still a moment of great hope. Perhaps the United States was finally making a shift, as a nation and a culture, toward progress, generosity—the recognition of the many millions in this country quietly contributing but hiding in the shadows. Perhaps things were really changing.

The recent ICE raids seem to suggest otherwise, and now that the Supreme Court, locked in a 4-4 ruling, has effectively deemed President Obama’s immigration action unconstitutional, the nation’s undocumented population once again has much to fear.

Unfortunately, disappointments of this sort are nothing new to our immigrant neighbors. But this fight is far from over, and we at AMPHS stand in solidarity with our immigrant communities. We will continue the struggle for immigrant rights—their right to work, under proper working conditions. Their right to provide for their families, and to keep those families together. Their right to education, to decent housing, to visibility. Their right to equal treatment under the law, to live free from the fear of discrimination and deportation. Their right to quality healthcare.

Despite this major setback, we at AMPHS still have hope for this country. We believe that change is not only possible, but necessary. As the President said in November of 2014, “we are and always will be a nation of immigrants…What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal—that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will.”

We must settle for nothing less.

If you have questions about the Supreme Court decision, please contact us at (212) 256-9036 or info@amphsonline.org.

You can also attend New York Immigration Coalition’s town hall meeting on Thursday, June 30, or call their hotline on June 28 and 29 from 4pm-7pm.

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Mental Health First Aid at AMPHS

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AMPHS holds Mental Health First Aid training

It’s Memorial Day weekend, which means it’s the last weekend of Mental Health Awareness Month. But that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to spread awareness throughout the year on this critical and often misunderstood public health issue.

Mental health challenges—such as depression, anxiety, psychosis, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse—are shockingly common in the Unites States. Would you guess that more than 16 million American adults are affected by depression in a given year? Or that 3.3 million American adults suffer from bipolar disorder? Or that over 11 million Americans will experience psychosis in their lifetime?

At AMPHS, we’ve found that the stressors often endured by the low-income immigrant populations we serve can lead to many of these mental health challenges. Inadequate housing, financial hardship, social isolation, fear of deportation—it is no wonder that a 2008 study conducted by the Carolina Population Center at UNC-Chapel Hill found 30% of Latino adolescents in North Carolina (93% of whom were not US citizens) showed signs of sub-clinical or clinical anxiety, and 18% showed signs of depression. The Asian Outreach Program at The Child Center of NY also identifies “the stigma still surrounding mental health and substance abuse treatment in traditional Asian cultures” as a particular obstacle for newly immigrated Asian children and adolescents at higher risk for mental health and substance abuse issues.

That is why we at AMPHS are making mental health a priority. With The National Council for Behavioral Health, we are providing Mental Health First Aid courses to help individuals work with those who are developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. Identified on SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices, this training helps the public better identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses.

Based on the pioneering work of Mental Health First Aid founders Betty Kitchener and Tony Jorm, this 8-hour training certification course instructs participants on a five-step action plan to assess a situation, select and implement interventions, and secure appropriate care for the individual experiencing a mental health crisis. Thorough evaluations, in randomized controlled trials and a quantitative study, have proved this CPR-like program effective in improving trainees’ knowledge of mental disorders, reducing stigma, and increasing the amount of help provided to others.

This program is generously co-sponsored by Senator Jesse Hamilton, the Chinese-American Planning Council Brooklyn Community Center, and African Services Committee.

To learn more about Mental Health Awareness, visit Mental Health America whose awareness theme this year is Life with a Mental Illness, for which they’ve called on individuals to share what life with a mental illness feels like for them in words, pictures and video by tagging their social media posts with #mentalillnessfeelslike. All posts are collected here.

For more information on Academy of Medical & Public Health Services and our other training programs, visit www.amphsonline.org.

For more information on Mental Health First Aid, visit www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org.

AMPHS Testifies at City Hall

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On March 28, AMPHS President & CEO Hewett Chiu was invited to address the New York City Council on the importance of continued funding for Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito‘s Immigrant Health Initiative. Read Chiu’s full testimony below:

“Good afternoon. My name is Hewett Chiu, and I am the President & CEO at the Academy of Medical and Public Health Services (AMPHS). AMPHS is a not-for-profit healthcare organization in Sunset Park that provides free clinical screenings integrated with individualized health education and social services to the immigrant populations of New York City. Our mission is to deinstitutionalize healthcare and make it a basic human right for all New Yorkers. We provide our services free of charge and without discrimination to documentation status, socioeconomic status, and any other demographic factor. In the past six years we have been operating, we have grown right alongside implementation of the Affordable Care Act and NYS Medicaid Reform, and we have come to realize that both grassroots outreach and coordination of care are critical to ensuring the health and wellbeing of entire communities in New York City.

“As just one of many examples, we had a middle-age female Asian immigrant walk into our center speaking not a word of English. Let’s call her Ms. L. She initially came in because she wanted to check her blood pressure. Once the on-site clinicians began to talk to her and a certain level of trust was established, Ms. L opened up to us. It turns out she was under a lot of stress as a single mother raising three young boys as a new immigrant to our great city. She told us that several times, she had considered jumping off a cliff or into the ocean with her boys to take her family out of her agony. Serious conditions like mental health disorders, STDs, and HIV are so stigmatized in the immigrant populations that they are rarely discussed, but yet can be so prevalent. We find that we need to spend the time to conduct targeted public health interventions to ensure those with such conditions are properly screened for risk factors.

“What initially was just a blood pressure check turned into a lifesaving intervention that day – not just for Ms. L, but for three young children as well. We provided the medical screenings, initial counseling and guidance to Ms. L, and acted as a pair of ears that immigrants so rarely have in healthcare. We then seamlessly coordinated her next steps and made the proper referrals to a sliding scale mental health clinic for ongoing follow up care. Today, Ms. L is embracing life and supporting her boys through school.

“There are many more Ms. L’s out there. They do not know the resources available for them, and more importantly, they do not know the detrimental effects of not seeking care when they need to. The Immigrant Health Initiative is a key cornerstone to ensuring everyone in New York City will feel comfortable accessing appropriate health services at the appropriate time. It allows us to work closely with other vital community partners such as the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest to provide comprehensive wrap-around services that address a full continuum of care.

“Continued funding under the Immigrant Health Initiative will enable us to (1) leverage the grassroots model we already have and increase outreach to our immigrant populations in Sunset Park, a neighborhood identified by Mayor DeBlasio in October as being an underserved community for primary health care; (2) implement a new culturally sensitive public health education model to destigmatize specific serious health conditions through one-on-one outreach and counseling; and (3) more effectively coordinate care for our population, thus helping to reduce the administrative burden that providers today find they are facing. Ongoing coordinated preventive care is much more cost effective and a better intervention than emergency care, when it could already be too late. The Immigrant Health Initiative can truly help us save more lives, and I humbly thank the City Council for funding the initiative this past fiscal year and strongly urge the Council to continue fully funding this initiative.

“Thank you.”

Understanding Mental Health in Sunset Park

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The graduates of AMPHS first mental health first aid training.

Many immigrants, particularly in Sunset Park, are at risk for developing mental health conditions due to assimilative stresses, domestic violence, bullying, separation from their families, and financial strain. This can lead to adverse consequences, including substance abuse, depression and suicide.

In support of Mayor de Blasio and First Lady McCray’s ThriveNYC initiative, AMPHS has launched a series of free mental health first aid trainings for the community, beginning in December 2015. The training course introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems and instructs them on a five-step action plan to assess a situation, select and implement interventions, and secure appropriate care for the suffering individual.

AMPHS held its first 2-day training this month in collaboration with the Office of Senator Jesse Hamilton, Chinese-American Planning Council Beacon Center, African Services Committee, and Mental Health Association of New York City, training over 25 community members on addressing mental health issues in their communities in the overwhelmingly popular class. Congratulations to all of our graduates!