By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Bank of America has granted the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Health Equity $1 million to launch a program that promises to improve children’s overall health in West Philadelphia.
Tyra Bryant-Stephens, MD, Chief Health Equity Officer of the Center for Health Equity and Medical Director of the Community Asthma Prevention Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, talked in an interview with The Mortgage Note about how residential segregation and economic inequality have left some neighborhoods so run down they are unhealthy for children to grow up in.
In West and Southwest Philadelphia, more than one-third of children live below the poverty line, according to a press release.
“Because of systematic practices there have been homes that have been allowed to dilapidated,” Bryant-Stephens said.
Bryant-Stephens explained that asthma can be an allergic disease, triggered by pests, dust, mold, and tobacco smoke.
Since pests like cockroaches and mice like moisture, as does mold, through the Block Builds Program they will extend the hospital’s evidence-based Community Asthma Prevention Program Plus to make over 100 homes in West Philadelphia healthier, directly impacting more than 400 individuals.
Through collaborations with Rebuilding Together Philadelphia and Habitat for Humanity, as well as minority- and women-owned contractors identified through The Enterprise Center, homes are repaired and asthma triggers are removed at no cost to families, according to the press release.
“We know housing is health,” Bryant-Stephens said. “We’re really excited to be able to improve our own backyard.”
According to the press release, this partnership in Greater Philadelphia with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is part of Bank of America’s commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity by supporting innovative initiatives to improve health outcomes in communities of color.
Ron Keren, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said leaders at the hospital have long understood that a child’s health is greatly influenced by factors that go beyond medical care.
”As much as 80 percent of a child’s health and well-being is linked to the conditions in their environment, like access to high-quality education, healthy food, green spaces, clean air and water, and safe housing and neighborhoods. Building upon CHOP’s 5-year, $25 million Healthier Together initiative, the Center for Health Equity continues CHOP’s commitment to addressing those factors as a path to improving children’s overall health and well-being,” Keren said in a statement.
Jim Dever, President, Bank of America Greater Philadelphia, said in a statement that lack of access to health care for communities of color has only been exacerbated by the pandemic in Philadelphia.
“Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s work to address barriers to health care and address the socioeconomic and environmental factors in West Philadelphia through the Block Builds program will ultimately drive greater economic mobility and build stronger communities in Philadelphia,” Dever said.
Since 2021, Bank of America has invested more than $66 million nationally to address needs related to health in the communities it serves. This includes local philanthropic support, an expanded partnership with CVS Health to deliver free flu vaccine vouchers to underserved communities, continuing work with Feeding America nationally and locally to address barriers to healthy eating and supporting mental health initiatives for young people of color, according to the press release.
A spokesperson for Bank of America said they have invested $3.5 million over the last year to help address critical needs in the Greater Philadelphia community.
Additional organizations Bank of America Greater Philadelphia has supported includes Black Doctors Covid Consortium, Boys & Girls Clubs, Coded by Kids’ 1Philadelphia, Cradles to Crayons, The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, Habitat for Humanity, Mural Arts Philadelphia, Pennsylvania CDFI Network, Philabundance, Philadelphia Youth Network, and Project HOME.
Discussions about supporting the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia took place over several months and on July 21, the $1 million partnership was announced.
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