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Westchester Health Care, Social Services Workers Simulate Poverty

From left, Phyllis Zinner of the Nurse Practitioner Healthcare Foundation, Steve Zeitlin of City Lore, Cheryl Hunter-Grant of the Lower Hudson Valley Perinatal Network and Adam Hughes of HealthlinkNY.
From left, Phyllis Zinner of the Nurse Practitioner Healthcare Foundation, Steve Zeitlin of City Lore, Cheryl Hunter-Grant of the Lower Hudson Valley Perinatal Network and Adam Hughes of HealthlinkNY. Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – A hundred workers from Westchester County-based health care and community organizations recently took part in a Walk in My Shoes poverty simulation for a month.

The exercise, organized by HealthlinkNY’s Health Action Priorities Network, was designed to give workers perspective on what a low-income family goes through trying to make ends meet.

During the months, participants paid a doctor’s visit, went shopping with limited funds, got around with no car and other essential tasks.

The organizations involved were Human Development Services of Westchester, Center for Regional Healthcare Innovation at Westchester Medical Center and Montefiore Hudson Valley Collaborative in Yonkers.

“It’s a helpful exercise in seeing how people have to struggle on a daily basis, so when you talk about poverty, it’s not an abstract thing, it’s real,” Lillian Jimenez of Westchester Medical Health PPS said in a statement. “It’s about money; it’s about resources; and it’s about crisis in families. People have to make difficult decisions that can have a lot of impact on their lives.”

“(The people involved) saw firsthand what it’s like to live in poverty and how the difficulties of day-to- day life can impact someone’s health care access and choices,” said Adam Hughes, senior director for community initiatives for HealthlinkNY, in a statement.

As a result of the simulation, each of the organizations involved made plans to form a Health Equity Task Force and within six months make one organizational change to better serve patients and clients dealing with poverty.

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