New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine-Arkansas in Jonesboro will launch the Delta Population Health Institute (DPHI). The DPHI will serve as an anchor institution to leverage its resources in education, research, and policy to address population health issues. Additionally, the DPHI will facilitate community activation to close the gap in health disparities and transform community health by focusing on the social determinants of health.
“Health outcomes in Arkansas and the Delta are among the worst in the country,” said Shane Speights, D.O., Dean of NYITCOM-Arkansas. “Among states, Arkansas annually ranks near the bottom in a number of categories, including hypertension, diabetes, obesity and premature death rates. There are numerous factors well beyond the health care system that impact the overall health of our communities, and I’m excited about how the Delta Population Health Institute will bring people together to address those issues and serve as an impetus for change.”
Population health is defined as the overall health of a group of people. Social determinants of health are the conditions of the places where people live, work, learn and play, that influence population health. Examples of social determinants of health include but are not limited to educational systems, transportation, economic drivers, nutritional resources and health care systems.
“When a community doesn’t have access to healthy food, adequate transportation, affordable housing, education, or quality health care, those issues impact their overall health,” said Brookshield Laurent, D.O., Chair of Clinical Medicine at NYITCOM-Arkansas and newly-appointed Executive Director of the DPHI. “We’ve created the DPHI to serve and collaborate with Delta communities, learners, leaders, policymakers, government agencies and stakeholders to lead change that results in healthier communities as we address these issues that are so prevalent throughout our region.”
The DPHI will house the NYIT Master of Public Health and the Population Health Certificate programs. All NYITCOM-Arkansas medical students receive a certificate in Population Health as part of their medical education, and the program will also be available to partner community members who desire to learn how to lead and facilitate change. The DPHI will train all learners and stakeholders in population health to create policy, systemic and environmental change that will transform the health of communities in the Mississippi Delta.
The DPHI will also house rural health initiatives, a policy lab, the First District Congressional Fellowship and the Delta Care-A-Van. The First District Congressional Fellowship was created in 2018 and allows NYITCOM-Arkansas students to work with U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford’s office to assess and analyze data and policy, inform policy makers, and help drive community-based solutions to improve health outcomes. The Delta Care-A-Van was established in 2019 through a grant from the USDA. The program leads free health screenings and health education programs and works with community leaders to provide solutions to the unique challenges they face in their towns.
“All of these initiatives are aimed at removing barriers, creating access to resources and making people aware of the assets that are available to them to help them live healthier lives and in turn help build healthier communities,” Laurent said.