The City of Boston earned the highest ranking in a two-year analysis of US cities and the health policies of those cities that have policies in place to help communities thrive and residents live healthier lives.
CityHealth awarded gold, silver, and bronze medals to cities based on the number and strength of their policies in nine areas as well as overall medals. Boston was among five cities to receive the overall gold medal; five received silver; nine received bronze; and 21 did not have enough strong policies to warrant a medal.
"Every Bostonian deserves to have equal opportunities, and that begins with ensuring the good health of our residents," said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "I'm proud Boston has achieved this health ranking, and look forward to continuing our programs and initiatives that keep Boston healthy."
Boston was recognized as a leader specifically on policies that prevent tobacco use by young adults, regulate alcohol sales, create opportunities for all children to attend pre-kindergarten, empower consumers by creating a system of publicly posted restaurant grades, and provide access to healthy foods in city-owned buildings.
"Creating and supporting public policies that are rooted in health and opportunity for all residents, particularly those who have traditionally been most vulnerable or seen less opportunity, is key in our work toward achieving health equity," said Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) Executive Director Monica Valdes Lupi, JD, MPH. "This study not only showcases our work toward creating a healthy city for all Boston residents, but also identifies other cities that are leading in each policy area, creating opportunity for collaboration and learning from one another."
CityHealth policies include recommendations on employment benefits, education, affordable housing, active living and transportation, public safety, tobacco control, clean indoor air, food safety and nutrition. Each recommendation is backed by evidence, supported by qualified experts, and has a track record of bipartisan support.
"We want every person, in every city, to live the healthiest possible life and we've identified ways that cities can make significant improvements," said Ed Hunter, president and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation, the founder of the CityHealth initiative. "Good health extends into every aspect of our lives - from paid sick days to early education, from safe streets to safe food."
To earn the overall gold, Boston received gold medal ranking in five of the categories tracked, silver in three and bronze in one.
Alcohol Sales Control
High-Quality, Universal Pre-K
Healthy Food Procurement
Clean Indoor Air
Paid Sick Leave
While Boston is a leader on CityHealth's policy recommendations, the city continues to seize new opportunities to boost quality of life and build stronger communities with further policy steps. Mayor Walsh has announced a policy initiative that would create pre kindergarten opportunities for every Boston family. A BPHC program works with nail salon and auto shop owners to create healthier indoor air conditions for their employees and clients.
"Policy is a powerful lever for leaders looking to make a difference in people's well-being and make their cities great places to live. Boston has seized these opportunities to lift all neighborhoods. We congratulate this strong performance in our assessment, and look forward to working together to enhance policy areas like paid sick leave and public safety," said Dr. Shelley Hearne, CityHealth's principal investigator.
CityHealth will update its ratings again in three years. In the meantime, new resources from the de Beaumont Foundation will provide technical assistance and support to cities as they advance their policies on these target topic areas, with the goal of creating healthier lives, stronger communities and cities people are proud to call home.
The assessment and analysis was conducted as a project of the de Beaumont Foundation. As a gold medalist, Boston is joined by New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C. For more details on how Boston stacks up against other cities, visit the CityHealth website: www.cityhealth.org.
The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) is seeking new community members for its Boston Biosafety Committee (BBC) from the South End/Roxbury, Fenway, and/or Chinatown neighborhoods. The BBC provides technical assistance and advice on issues related to regulation and permitting of biological research laboratories in the City of Boston. Community members should be able to commit to two years on the committee.
BPHC permits and regulates research laboratories in Boston and the BBC has a role in advising the Executive Director of BPHC. Community members of the BBC have a role in communicating information on biological safety to the public and providing input on community concerns.
The BBC meets when required for review of research projects, laboratory permit applications, or other times requested by the BPHC Executive Director. The time commitment will average five hours a month, with some months having no meetings and some months having meetings with materials to review in advance.
Community members interested in being on the BBC should complete the brief application.
For questions, please contact Julien Farland, Boston Public Health Commission Director of Biological Safety, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-534-2814.
Deadline for applications is February 28, 2017
Although the overall number of new HIV diagnoses fell 19% from 2005 to 2014 in the United States, diagnoses have increased in some groups. African Americans continue to experience the greatest burden of HIV compared to other races and ethnicities. In 2015, African Americans represented 12% of the US population, but accounted for 45% (17,670) of HIV diagnoses.
What can you do?
- 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.
- 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 increase HIV education, testing, community involvement and treatment among the African American communities. 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.
February is National Children's Dental Hygiene Month. NCDHM brings together dental professionals, healthcare providers, and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health for children, their caregivers, teachers, and many others. This year, the theme is "Choose Tap Water for a Sparkling Smile."
Why tap water
Like most cities, tap water in Boston has fluoride, a naturally-occurring mineral that helps prevent cavities. Fluoride works by making the outer surface of your teeth (enamel) stronger and more resistant to the acid attacks that cause tooth decay. Tap water is also good for your teeth because- unlike drinks that contain sugar (like juice, soda, and sports drinks)- it washes away leftover food particles and dilutes acids in the mouth, which the cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth love.
Not only is tap water good for the teeth, it is good for the body, too! Because our bodies are 60% water and almost all major functions of the body require water, it is important to stay hydrated. What's more, unlike sugary drinks, water has zero calories and can help you lose weight, too!
Boston tap water
Did you know Boston also has some of the best tasting tap water in the country, based on a national taste test? Our tap water comes from the pristine Quabbin and Wachusetts reservoirs in central and western Massachusetts, which are protected naturally by watersheds.
Taste the tap
Boston residents agree – tap water tastes good! See for yourself!
More oral health tips
Parents can also help prevent cavities and promote good oral health in their children by ensuring they:
- Have their 1st dentist visit by their 1st birthday
- Brush teeth at least 2x a day
- Replace toothbrushes every 3 months or after being sick
- Visit the dentist every 6 months
For more information
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today joined Sheriff Steven W. Tompkins in launching a recovery partnership between the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department and the Mayor's Office of Recovery Services that will expand the delivery of recovery services to inmates during incarceration and create a continuum of care that will continue after their release.
"This program will make our communities and homes safer," said Mayor Walsh. "This initiative is about giving people second chances, and a fighting chance at recovery. It's important we build strong pathways to and from the recovery community, and these pathways must extend to our prisons. I'd like to thank the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department for their important work, and for partnering with us in this recovery effort. We look forward to continuing to grow this partnership."
The Recovery Partnership includes a series of regular recovery panels at the Suffolk County House of Corrections and the Nashua Street Jail, through which service providers, experts and relevant stakeholders will offer guidance and connections to inmates prior to their release, helping to guide the inmates through the early recovery process, and allowing them to build a network of support in the neighborhoods where they live.
This Recovery Partnership focuses on a key intervention point for populations with substance use disorders. Between June and December of 2016, the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department admitted 2,223 individuals who were in need of medical care for substance use disorder. The partnership will allow inmates to be trained on overdose prevention and Narcan use and to build relationships with providers who will help ensure their long-term recovery after release, including providers who offer outpatient care services, medically assisted treatment and recovery support groups.
"This Recovery Partnership will mean faster, stronger, and better connections for incarcerated individuals leaving our institutions and reentering their neighborhoods," said Sheriff Tompkins. "In corrections we know that what we do 'behind the wall' is impactful, but we can only do so much. We know that in order for those individuals in our care to be successful in reentering society they must develop strong, meaningful connections with people in their neighborhoods and communities."
"We're excited for this opportunity to integrate recovery services throughout the reentry continuum," said Jen Tracey, Director of the Mayor's Office of Recovery Services. "Exposing people to the services offered through the Boston Public Health Commission's Bureau of Recovery Services and by other providers in our community will allow this high risk population to be exposed to recovery services prior to their release and ensure they receive support as they transition back into the community."
Incarcerated individuals are at an increased risk of overdose when they leave jail, as often the potency of street drugs has changed during their incarceration and their tolerance to those drugs has decreased. Inmates in recovery often face a unique set of challenges as they work to reenter society while working on their recovery.
Ms. Ingrid Ross Lyons has fiery, red shoulder-length dreadlocks and shell earrings, a contrast against her white knit hat and sweater. She is the epitome of where she has been and where she is now. Hailing from Trinidad & Tobago and now a resident of Dorchester, Ingrid has a medical background as a patient care assistant and was a former power lifting athlete. She knows the importance of health and wellness and her vivacity is what is getting her through her recent hypertension diagnosis.
It was during a visit with her provider for an abnormal blood count that led to the discovery that Ingrid has high blood pressure when her vital signs were measured. With a history of fibroids leading to excessive bleeding, Ingrid became anemic. The fatigue from the anemia led to decreased exercise and increased weight that resulted in hypertension. She is now maintained daily on Hydrochlorothiazide, an anti-hypertensive and diuretic medication. Her active participation in "My Life, My Health" classes, an intervention offered by the Boston Prevention & Wellness Trust Fund, has also helped her manage life with hypertension.
For the past 6 weeks, Ingrid and her fellow classmates have been dedicated to learning about their hypertension; in 3 hour weekly sessions taught by nutritionist Mandy Duncan, RDN, LDN, CDE and Dr. Ivy Brackup, MD, Mac, at the DotHouse Health. Through lessons, books, and notes she takes home, Ingrid shares the positive impact she and her classmates have felt, "I saw a change in them. They talk differently and are putting into practice what we learn and are more hopeful." During "My Life, My Health," participants learn diet strategies like improved portion control and choosing more raw and whole foods over canned and processed foods. They are also taught how to monitor their own blood pressure and exercise techniques conducive to aging –empowering themselves to take control of their health.
The relationships formed between classmates and instructors are the most valuable takeaways for Ingrid. She is developing a bond that extends beyond the sessions and they have learned to support each other through shared struggles and hopes. Ivy and Mandy always "made themselves available, that's what I love," Ingrid shares. They are involved and communicative, consistently calling with reminders and check-ins. She has learned how to properly measure her own blood pressure by taking positioning and timing into account. Ingrid documents these readings weekly in a log and her goal measurement is 130/80 mm Hg.
Ingrid takes her health and well-being very seriously. "I intend to live very long and healthy." Being Trinidadian, she is resourceful with her food and shares that in Trinidad, "you eat what the land provides." She brought over those values into her lifestyle here in Boston. Ingrid reveals that her typical day includes fruit for breakfast and toast with avocado or green leafy vegetables to combat her anemia. It helps that Ingrid is a gardening aficionado and grows eggplant, cauliflower, and cucumbers. When she eats chicken or fish she prefers to bake or steam more often over frying.
What encourages Ingrid to keep her blood pressure and weight under control? Being able to fit into her skinny jeans. Preparing healthy and delicious meals and her daily walking and dancing regimen is helping her achieve this goal.
The PWTF class "My Life, My Health" has empowered Ingrid to be her own greatest advocate. Her advice to people living with hypertension is to be "verbal, honest, and specific with your provider so they can advise you best." The class follows the Stanford Model, which employs participative chronic disease self-management in a supportive environment. Ingrid is a role model for her peers, demonstrating how important self-will and a strong support system are combined with customized nutrition and fitness knowledge in hypertension management.
During his third State of the City address Tuesday, Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the establishment of five new neighborhood-based trauma response and recovery teams that will strengthen efforts to support Boston residents impacted by violence.
The Neighborhood Trauma Teams (NTT) in Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, Mattapan and East Boston will be managed by the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) and co-led in each neighborhood by teams consisting of a community health center and a community partner.
"With the new Neighborhood Trauma Teams, in the aftermath of violence, community health centers, hospitals and community groups will now be able to coordinate immediate response and sustained recovery for all those affected," said Mayor Walsh. "Together, we'll break the cycle of violence and heal our city."
This model was designed with feedback from a community engagement process that included 14 listening sessions hosted by BPHC, during which BPHC staff heard from more than 350 residents about what their individual and community needs have been following a violent or traumatic event.
"Through this new partnership, the City, community-based organizations and community health centers will work together to ensure continuity of care for residents and communities from the moment that we respond to incidents of violence through the ongoing provision of behavioral health services," said BPHC Executive Director Monica Valdes Lupi, JD, MPH. "We're grateful to have support on this effort from from Children's Hospital Boston and Partners HealthCare System. Their resources have made it possible to build on our existing trauma response efforts to best serve our communities' needs."
The NTTs are supported through a combination of City funding and grants from Boston Children's Hospital Boston and Partners HealthCare System. The teams were selected through a competitive RFP process. The three grants to support Neighborhood Trauma Teams in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Jamaica Plain have already been awarded. Two additional grants will be awarded in March to fund the teams in East Boston and Mattapan.
The Justice Resource Institute's SMART Team will provide a 24-hour hotline for residents seeking support and will provide citywide trauma response services for neighborhoods that do not have a funded team. This mobile team will also support the five funded teams with backup care as needed.
The currently funded teams include:
Lead Agency: Bowdoin Street Health Center
Community Partner: Greater Four Corners Action Coalition
Lead Agency: Brigham and Women's Hospital with Southern Jamaica Plain and Brookside Health Centers
Community Partner: Tree of Life
Lead Agency: Whittier Street Health Center
Community Partner: Madison Park Community Development Corporation
This new NTT model builds on existing trauma resources, programs, and services, including the Violence, Intervention & Prevention (VIP) neighborhood coalitions. BPHC engages with residents through five VIP coalitions to design and implement violence prevention strategies at the community level. VIP works with residents to develop strategies to prevent violence where they live by providing support for resident-led coalitions, promoting youth engagement in positive activities, and creating opportunities to develop leadership.
The NTTs will add to the efforts of VIP by supporting the healing of residents following a traumatic event. NTTs will offer immediate individual and family support and ongoing access to evidence-based trauma treatment. The teams will conduct community outreach and engagement to make sure residents know how to access services, and will host community meetings to share safety information and provide safe spaces for groups to come together for healing.