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Feb 13
Boston Public Health Commission 2017 Annual Report

​We are pleased to present BPHC's 2017 Annual Report. This report is an overview of our programs and services that play a critical role in carrying out our mission of protecting, preserving, and promoting the health and well-being of all Boston residents, particularly the most vulnerable. 

For a PDF of the full document, please click on the front cover of the report below. 


Feb 08
Mayor Walsh, Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) Release Health of Boston Report

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the release of the latest Health of Boston report that presents the overall health of Boston residents, providing a foundation for the City's further planning and implementation of health-related services and policies, and supports the Boston Public Health Commission's (BPHC) critical role in furthering health equity in Boston. 

"This report serves as a roadmap to drive and prioritize our efforts by not only describing the health successes and challenges we face as a city, but also offering real world perspectives," said Mayor Walsh. "We celebrate the progress made in the last decade, and look forward to continuing to build a thriving City with health for all residents at its foundation."

"I'm encouraged by the progress Boston has already made toward creating opportunities for all residents to live healthy, fulfilling lives," said Chief of Health and Human Services Marty Martinez. "With this data, we are prepared to look toward the future, to work with partners, providers, and residents on tackling health issues collectively and with a broader lens. We will look beyond individual programs and services to build out a system of compassionate care that encompasses all of the needs of Boston's residents."

The 2016-2017 Health of Boston report presents data on environmental health, access to health care, maternal and child health, health-related behaviors, chronic disease, cancer, infectious disease, sexual health, injury and exposure to violence, mental health, substance use disorders, and causes of death. The report focuses on the various social, economic, and environmental factors that impact health, such as education, employment, income and poverty, and housing.

Data sources for the report include the U.S. census, birth and death registries, hospital emergency department and inpatient discharge databases, sexually transmitted and infectious disease surveillance data, surveys that describe individual behaviors or community demographics and assets, geographical data, and environmental monitoring data from local and state agencies. Data was collected and analyzed by BPHC, the City's health department.

"The data and points of view included within the report serve to guide our work, inform our strategic priorities, and increase our capacity to address these challenges through targeted partnerships and collaboration," said BPHC Executive Director Monica Valdes Lupi, JD, MPH. "This report gives us the foundation to tailor our services to the most urgent needs of Boston residents, specifically the most vulnerable."

"The Health of Boston report is a valuable tool in measuring the progress we are making to improve the overall health in Boston," stated Wanda McClain, vice president of Community Health and Health Equity, Brigham and Women's Hospital. "We still have work to do to close the gaps that  exist for racial and ethnic populations who have poorer birth outcomes and higher rates of chronic disease. We are committed to working collaboratively with community partners to ensure health equity for all Bostonians."

The data identifies advances in reducing in infant mortality and consistently low prevalence of elevated blood lead levels among children under age 6. It also shows declines in adolescent pre​gnancy, cigarette smoking and binge drinking among youth, chlamydia incidence, hepatitis C incidence, homicide and cancer mortality. Among the report's findings, some include:

  • ​From 2006 to 2015, deaths among black infants decreased by 36 percent
  • From 2011 to 2015, the birth rate for Boston females ages 15-17 decreased 57 percent
  • From 2007 to 2015, the percentage of high school students who reported smoking decreased from 7.5 percent to 4.8 percent
  • From 2011 to 2015, the cancer mortality rate decreased by 12 percent for Boston residents overall.​

​"As a community health center on the frontline of care, we're thrilled to see outcomes improving for the people of Boston. The City's health initiatives are gaining meaningful traction, indicating that we're on the right path," said Manny Lopes, president and CEO of East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC). "Seeing such positive data for East Boston, specifically, is deeply affirming the 1,200 EBNHC team members who work to meet our mission every day. We will build on our positive momentum, improving the health and well-being of the Boston community-and continually redefining what's possible."​

The report also highlights new and continued challenges such as the local impact of the national opioid epidemic, which is claiming lives at a historically high rate, and chronic disease prevalence rates remaining high. Differences in health experience across racial and ethnic groups, men and women, residents of public housing and homeowners, low income and higher income residents, and several other groups who may be at increased risk for poor health are also addressed.

The Boston Public Health Commission, the country's oldest health department, is an independent public agency providing a wide range of health services and programs. It is governed by a seven-member board of health appointed by the Mayor of Boston.

The full report can be found online. ​

Feb 07
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

African Americans are the racial group most affected by HIV in the United States. In 2015, African Americans made up 12% of the US population, but accounted for 45% of new HIV cases. Forty-eight (48%) of those diagnosed with AIDS in the United States were African Americans. At the end of 2013, 40% (498,400) of the people living with HIV in the US were African American, and 1 in 8 did not know they were infected.​

What can you do?

Get educated.

  • HIV can be spread when someone with HIV has unprotected sex (anal, vaginal or oral) or shares injection drug equipment with someone who does not have HIV.
  • If an HIV-positive person is on medicine to treat HIV, the risk of infection is much lower.
  • Learn the facts about HIV.

Protect yourself against HIV.

  • Limit your number of sex partners and use condoms every time you have sex.
  • Talk with your partner about their status and getting tested.
  • Talk with your health care provider about safer sex practices and getting tested.
  • Never share needles or "works" if you are injecting drugs.
  • If you had a recent exposure to HIV, talk to your doctor right away about PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis). PEP must be started within 72 hours of exposure.
  • If you think you might be exposed to HIV in the future, ask your health care provider about PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis).

Get tested for HIV.

  • Everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once.  
    • People who have unprotected sex, have multiple partners or are injection drug users should get tested more often.
  • To find a testing site near you, visit GetTested or call the Mayor's Health Line at 617-534-5050.
  • Talk to your health care provider about taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) daily to prevent HIV infection.

Get treated.

  •  If you are HIV-positive, start treatment as soon as possible.
    • Taking HIV medication can keep you feeling healthy and reduce your chance of spreading the virus to someone else.

 

Help us fight HIV! Talk to your friends and family members about the importance of HIV prevention and treatment, and encourage them to get tested. To learn more about HIV, visit www.bphc.org/hiv

Feb 05
Children's Oral Health

Surprise!  Things that are good for the teeth are also good for our overall health.  This is especially true for children, whose bodies are growing and developing (before our very eyes!). 

Healthy eating is important for both dental and overall health.  Similarly, taking care of your teeth goes a long way.  Research shows developing these healthy habits early can lower the risk for developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and even certain cancers.     

Added Sugar

Limiting added sugar in the diet is especially important for both oral and overall health.  Sugar in food and drinks can not only cause tooth decay (which is the #1 chronic childhood condition), it also has been shown to be related to diabetes and obesity.  

Still, with nearly 75% of all packaged and processed foods containing sugar and with sugar listed under 61 different names, it may be difficult to identify and avoid added sugars completely. 



Laying the foundation for good oral and overall health

Fortunately, there are simpler ways parents can protect their children's health (and their smiles)!  Here are some tips to help ensure your kids can maintain good health:

TIPS FOR HEALTHY EATINGORAL HEALTH TIPS
  • Visit the dentist every 6 months
  • Brush teeth 2x a day
    • Inspect teeth to make sure they're clean
    • Floss 1x a day
    • As soon as any 2 teeth touch
  • Replace the toothbrush every 3 months​​​


For more information:​

Oral Health

Healthy Eating & Active Living

Sugar Smarts

Feb 02
BPHC Awards Funds to Nail Salons to Improve Ventilation
Funds awarded will assist salons in building ventilation systems compliant with the BPHC Nail Salon Regulation​.

The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) today announced it has awarded $51,000 in financial assistance to 17 nail salons in Boston. The salons will receive $3,000 each to cover some of the costs of installing upgraded ventilation required by the BPHC Nail Salon Regulation to protect their workers and customers from chemicals commonly found in nail products. 

"At Boston Public Health Commission, we are committed to creating healthy work environments that better protect their employees and customers from chemical exposure," said BPHC Executive Director, Monica Valdes Lupi, JD, MPH. "Extended exposure to the more harmful chemicals contained in nail salon products can be a serious health danger and we are delighted to be able to financially support salon owners who are already working to install upgraded ventilation systems in their locations."

Complying with the ventilation requirements is important to protect salon workers and customers from harmful chemicals contained in nail salon products like nail polish (regular, gel, acrylic, and powder dip) and nail polish remover. Particularly for employees, exposure to these chemicals is associated with poor health outcomes like certain cancers, reproductive effects, asthma, skin sensitivity and damage, and neurological damage. 

The review team ranked the salons that did not receive funding in priority order should additional resources become available. The 17 recipients of the funds are:

  • Brighton Nails, Brighton
  • Bromfield Nails, Downtown
  • Daisy's Nail, Dorchester
  • Egleston Nails, Roxbury
  • Glitter Nail, Charlestown
  • House of Nails, East Boston
  • Lee's Nails, Dorchester
  • Lisa Nail Salon, South Boston
  • Lovely Nails and Waxing, Roslindale
  • Lynn Spa, Dorchester
  • Nail Spa By Time, Mission Hill
  • Rainbow Nails Spa, Roxbury
  • Roxy Nails, Roslindale
  • Salon V, West Roxbury
  • Secrets Spa and Nail Salon, North End
  • Sky Nail & Spa, South Boston
  • YES Nails, Brighton

The BPHC Nail Salon Regulation requires that all nail salons permitted by BPHC before October 2013 comply with the ventilation requirements by October 2018. Salons that apply for their first permit after October 2013 must comply with the ventilation requirements before they can receive their permit to operate. The International Mechanical Code (IMC), as incorporated into the Massachusetts Building Code, indicates that all nail salons should have a mechanical ventilation system that includes:

  1. Minimum amounts of fresh outdoor air and mechanical exhaust that does not recirculate any air back into the salon or other spaces in the building
  2. Source capture ventilation that pulls air directly from the point of service at the manicure table or pedicure chair into the exhaust system
  3. Exhaust and supply air produced at specific rates, based on the size of the salon 

The 17 awardees were selected among 50 applicants through an extensive and competitive review process. The review team evaluated each application on several criteria including the salon's readiness and planning for the installation of ventilation, the salon's permit and enforcement history with BPHC, the type of building in which the salon is located, the number of employees and customer capacity of the salon, and whether the salon participates in the BPHC's Green & Clean Program.

This is the second round of funding that has been awarded to Boston's nail salons to support compliance with the ventilation requirements. BPHC previously awarded a total of $18,000 to six nail salons to help them build compliant ventilation systems. An additional $10,000 was awarded to ten salons to help them take the first step towards compliance - hiring an engineer to design their ventilation system.

This funding is being administered by the BPHC's Safe Shops Program, which was launched 13 years ago to serve auto shops, and which expanded to serve nail salons in 2007 and hair salons in 2016. The Safe Shops Program provides technical assistance and training to small businesses, to help them comply with regulatory requirements and adopt safer work practices. For more information, please visit www.bphc.org/safenails


Feb 01
February is National Children's Dental Health Month


National Children's Dental Health Month is a month-long health observance that brings together dental professionals, health care providers and others to raise awareness about the importance of good oral health in children. 


Leading chronic health issue for children in the U.S.

Did you know that cavities or tooth decay is one of the most common health issues affecting children in the U.S.?  In some places, it has an even greater impact on children and their families than asthma.  Oral health issues, such as cavities, can include:

  • Persistent pain
  • Dental abscesses or infections
  • Inability to chew foods well and decreased appetite
  • Depression and attention issues


Impact

It's no wonder that children and youth experiencing oral health issues are more likely to miss school and have poor academic performance than their peers.  Studies show that school-age children and youth in the U.S. miss 51 million hours of school each year due to oral health problems.  These absences can mean losing critical learning time, especially in the early grades, when foundational skills are being developed.  What's more, students that experience oral health pain are 4x more likely to have lower GPAs than their peers that don't.     


Prevention is key      

The good news is that when oral health problems are treated and students are not experiencing pain, their learning and school attendance improve!  Parents can help prevent cavities and promote good oral health by ensuring their children:


By the numbers: Tips for healthy teeth

Here are some more tips for good oral health:

1 – A child's 1st dentist visit should happen by the 1st birthday

2 – Brush teeth at least 2x a day

3 – Replace toothbrushes every 3 months

4   Visit the dentist every 6 months


For more information

  • Visit our website: www.bphc.org/oralhealth
  • Looking for a dentist in Boston OR information about how to pay for dental care?  Click here.  
Jan 26
Daily Table Opens Second Store

Healthy and affordable food lovers, rejoice! We're excited to share that the Daily Table is opening its second store on Friday, January 26th, 2018 in the heart of Boston, Dudley Square! The new store is located on 2201 Washington Street, Roxbury, MA 02119. Doors open 8am-8pm, Monday through Friday, with shorter hours, 11AM-7pm, on Sundays.​

Why Should You Check Out the Daily Table?

The Daily Tables mission is to provide wholesome, affordable, and delicious food to all people in the city of Boston. Their main goal is to make healthy food the easiest option in communities where unhealthy food is low priced and readily available. The Daily Table sells "grab-n-go" ready to eat meals and has a wide selection of produce, dairy items, and fruits and vegetables that won't break the bank.

Its new store is conveniently located near the Dudley Square station, with local bus and silver line connection. If you don't live near Dudley Square, you can also check out the Daily Tables other store located in Codman Square, Dorchester. For more information about both stores, visit their website at http://dailytable.org/ or like them on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/DailyTableDorchester/. Happy Shopping!

Jan 05
Accomplishments: Let's Get Healthy, Boston! Newsletter

We are excited to share with you the accomplishments of the three-year Let's Get Healthy, Boston! (LGHB) project and to preview what comes next. LGHB was funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2014 - 2017 to address leading risk factors for chronic disease and to improve health outcomes in Boston, particularly for residents with the greatest chronic disease burden.  Our project team worked with partners across the City of Boston to increase access to smoke-free housing, healthy food and beverages, and active living opportunities.
 
With Boston Public Health Commission and Boston Alliance for Community Health (BACH) as the lead partners, we engaged more than 100 community organizations, grassroots coalitions, city agencies, schools, retail stores, landlords, management companies, advocacy groups, universities, and others to plan, lead, inform, educate, train, organize, capacity-build, evaluate, and ultimately change Boston's neighborhoods to become healthier places for all.
 
"Preventing chronic diseases and deaths resulting from unhealthy diets, tobacco use, and physical inactivity is a shared priority for BPHC and BACH.  Diseases attributable to these behaviors are some of the leading causes of premature death and rising health care costs, and it is our responsibility to change these behaviors and reverse those trends by working to make Boston a healthier and more equitable place to live, play, and work." - BPHC Executive Director Monica Valdes Lupi, JD, MPH
 
So, how did we do?

Smoke-Free Housing (SFH)
 
"Going smoke-free with our housing portfolio was the right choice for Codman Square NDC. Not only did it help address the health needs of children and older adults dealing with asthma and other airborne ailments, but it also complemented other green measures used in our buildings that contribute to a better quality of life for residents and a healthier housing community." - Marcos Beleche, Assistant Director, Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation
  • 21,000 additional rental housing units are now smoke-free, reaching residents in both market rate and affordable housing developments.
  • All 17 Boston Community Development Corporations are now smoke-free.  These agencies received 85,000 pieces of SFH educational material, door decals, etc. to share with their residents. 
  • Community partners began a dialogue with the Boston Department of Neighborhood Development about strategies to incentivize new housing developments to begin as smoke-free.
  • ​The "Go Smoke-Free" media campaign, launched in collaboration with REACH Partners in Health and Housing, reached landlords and management companies about the benefits of going smoke free, with messages from landlords who made the transition. The campaign had an estimated 11.9 million "impressions" (potential views) on billboards across the city.

Smoke Free homes campaign collage


Healthy Food and Beverages
 Healthy Beverages collage
"Making it easier for people to make healthy choices is crucial to achieving health equity in Boston. With 'Farm Fresh Boston,' we hope to make people aware that there is a wide network of healthy and affordable food resources that can protect us from poor health outcomes such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and hypertension." - BPHC Executive Director Monica Valdes Lupi

  • 31 neighborhood corner stores and 10 Walgreens pharmacies promoted water and other healthy beverages as preferred options through signage and product placement.
  • Tropical Foods Supermarket in Dudley Square has installed permanent English-Spanish ReThink Your Drink signage and "green" beverage shelf labels that designate 109 products as healthier beverages.
  • 30 nutrition education events at farmers markets and supermarkets engaged more than 2,400 residents.
  • 1,000+ residents attended ReThink Your Drink demonstrations about the sugar content and health impact of various beverages at community events.
  • More than 400 pharmacists attended continuing education trainings about the negative health impact of sugary drinks and how to talk to pharmacy patients about limiting sugar intake.
  • The bi-lingual English-Spanish #FarmFreshBoston​ public awareness campaign promoted Boston's 25 farmers markets that offer financial incentives to low-income SNAP customers. The campaign had an estimated 22.8 million impressions on billboards, bus ads, newspaper ads and neighborhood way-finding signs.
  • A pilot of new digital technology for processing SNAP EBT cards at 10 farmers markets helped facilitate the transition in Boston from Bounty Bucks to the statewide Healthy Incentives Program as the new financial incentive.

Farm Fresh Boston campaign collage


Safe Routes to School
 
 
"The simple act of walking to school offers a myriad of benefits.  When students walk or bike to school, they are not only getting more exercise, but they are boosting their energy levels to help them become better learners throughout the school day." - BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang
 
  • A new district-wide Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program to promote walking and biking to school launched in Boston Public Schools (BPS) with program components in 32 elementary schools.
  • BPS has integrated a new pedestrian safety module into its K-5 physical education curriculum. Teachers were trained and began offering the curriculum. The curriculum has been institutionalized into PE teacher training. 
  • BPS created a SRTS communications brand, plan and toolkit to help the district and schools effectively communicate about the benefits of active travel. 
  • Preferred walking route maps have been developed and shared with families at 28 schools.
  • Four semi-annual Walk to School Day events engaged approximately over 5,000 students at 32 schools. The New England Patriots mascot, Mayor Walsh, and many BPS and City of Boston senior leaders participated in the events. 
  • Boston Transportation and Public Works Departments incorporated SRTS and school sites into its comprehensive safety planning, including Vision Zero, sidewalk repairs and Slow Streets grant criteria.
  • The Boston School Committee approved a revised comprehensive Wellness Policy that establishes a District commitment to support and promote safe and physically active transportation to and from school.
  • A five-year inter-agency strategic plan has been developed to guide the City in continued SRTS implementation.
 
Looking ahead, Boston is excited to receive a grant from the Partnership for Healthy Cities, funded through Bloomberg Philanthropies, to support SRTS for the 2017-18 school year. This new grant will allow us to continue SRTS communications work, support school programs and events, and work with partners on creating a sustainable Boston SRTS initiative. 
 
Stay up to-date on Boston SRTS through our website https://www.bostonpublicschools.org/saferoutes.

Safe Routes to School Collage 

Bicycling for Active Transportation
 
 
"As residents, we know we cannot create large-scale change alone. LGHB has empowered and resourced the community to create a change that is impacting the health of youth and families and changing our walking and biking environment for decades to come."- Paul Malkemes- ED of The Boston Project Ministries
  • Hubway bike share enrolled 256 low-income subsidized members at 7 neighborhood access points and institutionalized low-income membership across 4 area municipalities as part of its new management contract.
  • Boston Project Ministries mobilized residents to lead traffic calming measures and received a Slow Streets grant from Boston Transportation Department.
  • Sixteen neighborhood bike safety events and 11 learn-to-ride workshops improved the bicycling skills of more than 240 residents.  
  • Three neighborhood residents who are women of color are now licensed by the American League of Cyclists as cycling instructors and will utilize a community-based bike library to continue teaching more residents how to bike safely.
  • The first annual Boston Neighborhood Bike Forum in Dudley Square brought together more than 100 Boston residents and bicycling activists to connect, share, learn and envision what bicycling could be in Boston neighborhoods. #BikeYourHood
  • The Boston Cyclists' Union's "pop-up" stations repaired over 1,500 bikes at farmers markets in 6 neighborhoods without bike shops.
  • Boston Transportation Department produced a new resource "Boston by Bike" to help residents interested in biking get started.
  • The bi-lingual English-Spanish #IBikeBoston public awareness campaign featured real people from six neighborhoods and why they bike, aimed to influence social norms about bicycling. The campaign had an estimated 15 million impressions on billboards and bus ads.

Biking photo collage


Healthy Community Champions 
 
 
"The program has given our community the opportunity to work together and look at different ways to increase the overall health of our neighborhood!" - Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition HCC Coordinator Vivian Ortiz
 
The Healthy Community Champion (HCC) initiative, led by the Boston Alliance for Community Health (BACH), mobilized more than 100 residents as ambassadors and educators in their neighborhoods.  
 
  • HCCs were instrumental in the implementation of activities across Let's Get Healthy, Boston! three focus areas and were the voice of the project in Boston neighborhoods.
  • 12 community based organizations/coalitions, in 10 neighborhoods, led HCC teams.
  • Champions ranged in age from 14-78, spoke 12 languages, and reflected the racial and ethnic diversity of the city of Boston.
  • HCCs led outreach to landlords and neighbors on smoke free housing, engagement of corner stores, and coordinated neighborhood active transportation events.
  • HCCs interacted with more than 15,000 residents through community events and activities. 
 
Looking ahead, BACH is working to build the HCC initiative into its organizational structure. With funding from the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, BACH is developing an "HCC 2.0" model, taking the lessons learned from LGHB! and creating a sustainable program model.  
 
Have you seen the video series highlighting the success and impact of the Healthy Community Champions? Check them out here!


Healthy Community Champions picture

In addition to these accomplishments, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Prevention Research Center is completing evaluations of the Safe Routes to Schools and Healthy beverages work. We are excited to have data that supports our accomplishments and plan to share the results in a future newsletter. On behalf of the Let's Get Healthy, Boston! team, thank you for your interest and partnership on this project, and for your commitment to preventing chronic disease in Boston. Though this project has ended, our collective work to continue making Boston a healthier city continues.​

Stay in touch! We plan to keep you on our listserv for future work of BPHC's Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Division. If you have specific questions or comments about LGHB, reach us at: ChronicDisease@bphc.org.



Jan 05
Heating and Shoveling Safety Tips
Looking for cold weather resources? Here's our advice for staying healthy and safe while shoveling and heating your home today. 

 



 


Additional safety tips can be found at on the City of Boston's website
Jan 03
Cold Weather Shelter and Recovery Resources

With reports of extreme weather heading to Boston tomorrow, it's important that we look out for one another. See below for a few shelter & recovery resources. Remember, if someone needs immediate help, call 911.​

Shelter and Recovery resources


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Boston Public Health Commission
1010 Massachusetts Ave, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.
Phone:(617) 534-5395 Email: info@bphc.org