Public Health and Community Programs

The department is involved in community projects designed to improve the health of the community surrounding the hospital, including the nationally known program PROPP (Program to Reduce Obstetrical Problems and Prematurity). PROPP was a large grant-funded program from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Greater New York Chapter of the March of Dimes, which viewed the problem of preterm birth as a community problem requiring community solutions. Through PROPP, linkages were formed with all the other providers of prenatal care in the Bronx. Common protocols were developed, a common interdisciplinary medical record was introduced, education was provided to all providers of care, and patient education was initiated with PROPP-developed materials that are now being distributed nationally.

Complementing PROPP was the department-inspired Bronx Perinatal Consortium, a program funded by the State of New York as part of an expanded funding of prenatal care. All women in the state whose income placed them under 185% of the poverty level became eligible for this new funding, thus correcting a major financial barrier of access to care for the "working poor." Through the Bronx Perinatal Consortium, the department provided leadership in community organization, computer expertise, and the formulation of important state and local public policy to assist women in the Bronx in obtaining both comprehensive care and access to more sophisticated technologies.

Since 1995, faculty in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology have had a community-based program: RESPECT (Reducing Risks through Education, a School-based Program to Eliminate Cervical Cancer in Teens), with Dr. Karla Damus as program director. The overall aim of the RESPECT program is to develop and implement a comprehensive, multifaceted, culturally relevant educational program for inner city teens aimed at increasing their knowledge and decreasing their risk for the development of cervical cancer.

The program goals are:

  1. To educate as many Bronx high school students and faculty as possible in the Bronx about cervical cancer, the known risk factors, and what can be done to prevent it.
  2. To promote abstinence and delay of sexual activity; to promote use of barrier methods in sexually active teens.
  3. To encourage an annual examination by a health care provider and to seek services right away when concerns or symptoms occur.
  4. To promote prevention and cessation of smoking in teens.

Over 23,000 high school students have attended educational sessions held by Dr. Damus throughout the Bronx. This project continues to be a major community focus of the Public Health and Community Programs.