In the 2014 New Jersey County Health Ranking, Essex County ranked #20 out of the 21 counties in the State of New Jersey, just one notch from being the unhealthiest county. Essex County Health Collective (ECHC) was formed in less than two months when a call for proposal was disseminated in October 2014. The response to this call was overwhelming. The desire to address the barriers to a healthy Essex County reverberated, and ECHC was born.
Supported by U.S. Congressman of the 10th Congressional District Donald Payne Jr., Newark’s West Ward Councilman Joseph McCallum, and Robin Dougherty, Executive Director of Greater Newark Conservancy, there are twelve founding member organizations (and growing) within Essex County that makes up the Collective.
ECHC will serve Newark, Orange, East Orange, and Irvington, 50.5% of Essex County’s population and aims to help solve the top 5 priority health problems in Essex County:
- Heart disease
- Tobias A. Fox, Founder-Managing Director, Newark Science and Sustainability, Inc.
- Laureen M. Boles, State Director, NJ Environmental Justice Alliance
- Jonathan R. Harris, Executive Director, RedeemUs Essex
- Kelvin Roberson, Director of Community Outreach & Health Care Promotion, Urban Healthcare Initiative Program (UHIP)
- Francis Dixon, Executive Director, New Hope Now Community Development Corporation
- C. Christopher Sanders, President, WSM Associates, LLC
- Karen Blumenfeld, Esq., Executive Director, Global Advisors on Smokefree Policy (GASP)
- Carissa Borraggine, Owner, Harvest Table Restaurant
- Raymond Ocasio, Executive Director, La Casa de Don Pedro, Inc.
- Robin Dougherty, Executive Director, Greater Newark Conservancy
- David A. Ricci, President-CEO, Saint Michael's Medical Center
- Sakinah Abdul-Hakeem, Program Manager, Project Connect @ St. John's, Bridges Outreach, Inc.
ECHC envisions a healthier Essex County where its residents live longer, with good quality of life. To make this dream a reality, the coalition will concentrate on some of the barriers to good health:
- Through advocacy efforts, ECHC will push for the reform of some of the health-related laws governing the food system, social and economic factors and health behaviors that cause premature death and top deadly diseases. Through behavioral changes, these diseases can be prevented;
- To reduce the poverty level of families, ECHC will promote outreach and agency referrals, do job preparedness training, development and placement, with emphasis on GREEN jobs;
- Assist residents with health care enrollment, including guidance through the application process for the Health Insurance Marketplace and New Jersey Family Care [Medicaid];
- Provide health education to disenfranchised residents throughout Essex County about the challenges affecting their communities, by promoting preventive care and regular medical screenings, along with assistance in coordinating the provision of health care services to individuals who may otherwise not have access;
- Offer garden cultivation education and management to residents, focusing on produce distribution in urban communities and increased access to healthy food. The ultimate goal is for residents to become active and engaged in reshaping their environment, while taking back their health and growing their local food system; and
- Conduct community organizing, advocacy, and social service infrastructure among various communities throughout Essex County.
“The leaders of ECHC know that successful collaboration across organizations is difficult, yet it is the best way to do our job effectively and optimally. To meet our intended objectives, ECHC recognizes the need for cooperative approaches and their benefits, including the value of different leadership styles that contributes to a very informative and productive process. We hope to learn how to plan and implement the activities of our coalition in a well-organized and resourceful manner, in order to meet the challenges and dilemmas we will face, and capitalize on the strengths of multiple leadership perspectives.” –the Collective
(For more information contact Tobias A. Fox at 862.244.3519 or firstname.lastname@example.org)