The New York State Department of Health Highlights the Importance of An Accessible State for All New Yorkers

In Observance of National Public Health Week, the Department Shares its Statewide Agenda and Programming to Deliver Equitable Care and Ensure Healthy Communities for New Yorkers with Disabilities or Mobility Limitations

Learn More About National Public Health Week Here

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 8, 2022) – In observance of National Public Health Week, the New York State Department of Health today highlighted the importance of an accessible New York State. The Department continues to advance health solutions for New Yorkers living with disabilities or mobility limitations through advocacy, supporting healthy, accessible communities, and the creation of specialized programming and care.

"Statewide, over 3.7 million adults report having at least one disability," said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. "The Department remains committed to optimizing healthcare services and access for New Yorkers living with disabilities who, too often, are disproportionately affected by chronic disease and related risk factors. To build a healthier, more equitable New York, we must expand access to opportunities for health, and to healthcare and services that reach the diverse needs of individuals living with disabilities or mobility limitations."

New York adults living with a disability are more likely than those without a disability to report having diabetes (22% vs. 7%), arthritis (46% vs. 15%), hypertension (48% vs. 23%), cardiovascular disease (18% vs. 4%), and depressive disorders (31% vs. 10%). Compared to people without a disability, people with a disability are at higher risk of having obesity, engaging in less physical activity, and using tobacco. People living with disabilities also have less access to medical care and to health promotion programs. Nearly one in five adults with a disability reported that they did not have a routine physical exam within the past year and more than 40% reported not having a dental exam within the past year.

Although gaps in care and inclusive policies remain for people with intellectual, developmental, or other disabilities and mobility limitations, New York State has the capacity to address them. New York State's Health Improvement Plan, the Prevention Agenda, focuses on supporting adults living with a disability through the promotion of healthy, accessible communities and evidence-based care across the state.

"Ensuring state programs and services are accessible to persons with disabilities is a core mission of the Chief Disability Officer, and I am delighted to work with the Governor, the Department of Health and other agencies to make that happen," said New York State Chief Disability Officer Kim Hill. "The New York State Disability and Health Program is an essential part of that effort, improving health care access to New York's disabled and mobility-impaired community, and making it possible for so many to live healthier and more independent lives."

To further reduce health disparities among New Yorkers with disabilities or mobility limitations, the New York State Department of Health's Disability and Health Program works to reduce health disparities experienced among adults with disabilities. In partnership with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the program funds, establishes, and expands partnerships with organizations that serve adults with disabilities. Additionally, the program works to train healthcare personnel on best practices in providing accessible preventive health care, link adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to preventive healthcare and health promotion programs in their community, and evaluates and implements evidence-based health behavior interventions. This includes consideration for policy, system and environmental (PSE) changes.

"OPWDD is pleased to work with our partners at the Department of Health to ensure that people with developmental disabilities can access critical healthcare resources within the community through the Disability and Health Program," said New York State Commissioner of the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities Kerri Neifeld. "We know that equitable and appropriate healthcare is an essential component for people with developmental disabilities to confidently live independently within their community. Better access to healthcare and supports for healthier living help pave the way for more people with disabilities to live the life they choose."

To support healthy behaviors for people living with disabilities, the New York State Disability and Health Program collaborated with the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, CDC, and communities in the City of Syracuse and Cattaraugus County on a 2-year project called Reaching People with Disabilities through Healthy Communities. Beginning in 2017, this initiative addressed physical inactivity, poor nutrition, tobacco use, and exposure through sustainable policy, system and environmental (PSE) enhancements that promote inclusion. This work included making changes to create accessible community gardens, infrastructure-based improvements such as curb cuts, crosswalk safety measures and sidewalk repairs, improved accessibility at a baseball stadium, and an inclusivity policy adopted for public walking paths.

Through the Department's Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) program, the Department has partnered with local county health departments to improve the system of care for children and youth with special healthcare needs from birth to age 21, including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Department also supports three federally-designated University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) to further assess family and community needs and provide support to local health departments and CYSHCN families. Both programs promote and support healthy lifestyles for people living with disabilities and other special healthcare needs.

The Department's work to improve the health of people living with disabilities is ongoing. It includes efforts to reduce disparities in health insurance, increase physicalaccessibility to and availability of care, and the creation of more inclusive public health programs and communities that promote healthy living.

New Yorkers can learn more about New York State's Health Improvement Plan, the Prevention Agenda here and the New York State Disability and Health Program here

To learn more about the Department's Reaching People with Disabilities through Health Communities project, click here.

To learn more about National Public Health Week, click here.