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Compassionate Care with Excellence: Urban Health Plan Reaches 50-Year Golden Milestone


BRONX, N.Y.April 1, 2024 /7Newswire — Urban Health Plan (UHP), one of the largest community health center systems in New York State, nationally recognized by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as a leader in quality care, announced its 50-year anniversary today. Founded in 1974 by Dr. Richard Izquierdo, a visionary home grown Bronx physician, the organization is celebrating the significant milestone of devoted care and service to highly diverse, culturally rich, and often underserved communities throughout New York City for half a century.

Deeply embedded in the communities it serves, UHP’s system of federally qualified community health centers is comprised of 12 sites across the Bronx, Central Harlem, and Queens, including 12 school-based health programs, two mental health facilities, as well many culturally responsive programs addressing health disparities and social drivers of health — especially within BIPOC communities. These include Latino, African American, Afro-Caribbean, South Asian, and West African populations, in addition to other emerging patient groups. In 2023, UHP served close to 90,000 patients with more than 430,000 healthcare visits.

“Patients are the only reason we exist as an organization, and providing accessible, high-quality care is the driving force behind everything we do,” said UHP President and Chief Executive Officer Paloma Izquierdo-Hernandez, daughter of the founder and who earlier this year was elected board chair of the National Association of Community Health Centers. At the helm of the organization since 1996, Izquierdo-Hernandez is an accomplished healthcare executive and thought leader who has forged her own leadership path while burnishing the mantle of success set by her father.

“Compassionate, respectful, people-centered care is the standard my father established, and now, five decades later, we have exponentially expanded that very mission,” said Izquierdo-Hernandez, reflecting on UHP’s special ethos rooted in equity. “We continue to learn, grow, and move forward with the same heart, the same vision, and empathetic mindset.”

As the organization writes the next chapters of its legacy, Izquierdo-Hernandez views data and technology as levers in UHP’s ambitions to increase health equity through quality care and with a laser focus on social drivers of health. “Even in light of our contemporary medical advancements, a person’s zip code remains one of the most prominent indicators of health in the United States,” she said. “The more we can understand the full picture of health drivers, both clinical and social, we can more effectively provide whole-person care with a human touch.”

For example, earlier this year, UHP announced a $3.5 million contract to improve pediatric healthcare access using artificial intelligence (AI). Under the agreement, UHP and its partner Belle.ai will develop an AI solution designed to enable healthcare providers to remotely examine children with skin, ear, and throat conditions. The main objective is to significantly reduce unnecessary office and emergency department visits, as ear infections are the most common reason children visit doctors in the United States and the second most common pediatric diagnosis in emergency departments — accounting for about 30 million pediatric doctor visits each year.

UHP is also committed to advancing health equity through education. In 2010, the organization founded the Dr. Richard Izquierdo Health and Science Charter School, creating a pathway for middle and high school students to achieve higher education and, for some, the pursuit of careers in healthcare.

Additionally, UHP recently received a HRSA Teaching Health Center Planning and Development grant. This initiative will permit the organization to take the lead in increasing the ranks of culturally responsive psychiatrists assisting in help reducing cultural stigmas surrounding mental health in BIPOC communities. UHP’s Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant (NP/PA) Residency Program also provides rigorous post-graduate training to new nurse practitioner and physician assistant graduates who gain a deep understanding of the social drivers of health.

“Urban Health Plan was born in the humble neighborhood of Hunts Point and Longwood in the South Bronx, , and even today, as we’ve grown and increased our reach into other communities, we live and embody our original mission advancing health equity and providing culturally and linguistically competent care. While we are deeply inspired by our first 50 years, the evolving needs of the communities we serve will be our compass for tomorrow and beyond,” noted Izquierdo-Hernandez.

UHP is set to open a state-of-the-art, 52,000-square-foot healthcare facility that will expand access to quality primary care, medical subspecialty services, and it will house programs designed to address some of the most critical health issues affecting residents in the Bronx. The modern, five-story health center will also bring economic development and environmental health benefits to the community.

News and updates about Urban Health Plan and its ongoing pursuit of health equity, plus the schedule of events to honor its 50-year legacy, can be found at www.urbanhealthplan.org.

About Urban Health Plan: Urban Health Plan (UHP), a health system of federally qualified community health centers based in the South Bronx, Central Harlem, and Corona, Queens, has served the community since 1974. The organization has twelve clinical sites, twelve school-based health centers, two mental health facilities, and ten administrative and program sites. In 2023, UHP had more than 89,000 patients and more than 430,000 visits. UHP is Joint Commission accredited. For more information, visit www.urbanhealthplan.org

SOURCE Urban Health Plan, Inc.