CUIMC and NYP Support First Health and Wellness Series for the Local School Community

The virtual series has provided information on everything from flu season to supporting the mental health of children and adolescents during COVID-19.

Carla Alvarez Valverde
April 12, 2022

As part of the continued effort to connect resources at NewYork-Presbyterian (NYP) and Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) with our local community, NYP and CUIMC supported the Office of the Superintendent of Community School District 6 (CSD 6) to launch a health and wellness series for the school community.

Community School District 6 is a New York City Department of Education District serving Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights, and Inwood. The series was made possible thanks to the leadership of Manuel Ramirez, CSD 6 Superintendent and Cimary Hernandez, CSD 6 Family Support Coordinator.

The goal of the CSD 6 Health and Wellness Series is to provide helpful information and practical resources about a range of topics of interest to the school community. The series is part of the CSD 6’s Wellness Initiative Now (WIN 6). Led by the Office of the Superintendent, WIN 6 is a district wide initiative that aims to increase awareness of positive health behaviors and resources to benefit the school community.

Under the leadership of Mara Minguez, MD, MSc, Assistant Chief Medical Officer for Community Affairs at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Rafael Lantigua, MD, Associate Dean for Community Service at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, both institutions brought together NYP and CUIMC medical experts to support the CSD 6 Health and Wellness Series. Experts facilitated sessions, in English with Spanish interpretation available, geared towards families, students, and staff of CSD 6. A total of six sessions were completed in the Fall of 2021.

As community leaders, we have to join efforts to make sure our children and families receive essential information relevant to our current circumstances. Community and collaboration are two fundamental principles of our school community, and this series is a prime example of putting our values into action.

Mr. Manuel Ramirez, Community School District 6 Superintendent

The series launched on September 30, 2021 with an interactive discussion on COVID-19 and the Vaccine led by Dr. Mara Minguez. Dr. Minguez presented an overview about COVID-19 where key facts about COVID-19, vaccine information and eligibility, and COVID-19 variants were discussed.

On October 7 and November 9, Aiyana Rivera-Rodriguez, MD and Sebastian Cisneros, MD, both Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists at NewYork-Presbyterian Columbia University Irving Medical Center, spoke to families about mental health. In their presentation, titled “Mental Health and Back to School Readiness during COVID-19," Dr. Rivera-Rodriguez and Dr. Cisneros spoke about grief, bereavement, and trauma due to COVID-19 and discussed tips and techniques to help families deal with COVID-19 trauma.

The October 21 and November 16 sessions were dedicated to the topic of Nutrition. The sessions were led by Ileana Vargas, MD, Pediatric Endocrinologist, NewYork-Presbyterian Columbia University Irving Medical Center, and Kyle Murray, MS, RD, CDN, CDE, Community Nutrition Specialist, NewYork-Presbyterian Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Mr. Murray and Dr. Vargas spoke to families, students, and staff about nutrition and presented a didactic overview about the importance of reading nutrition labels and incorporating healthy eating into everyday lives. Dr. Vargas and Mr. Murray also spoke about the challenges and impact that COVID-19 has brought to our eating patterns.

It is crucial for our medical institution to collaborate with our schools with the purpose of promoting health literacy and better health outcomes. We are committed to the wellbeing of our community.

Dr. Mara Minguez

Finally, Flu Season and COVID-19 was discussed on November 4 by Dr. Lantigua. In his presentation, Dr. Lantigua shared with the school community recent data on COVID-19, risks of COVID-19 disease, booster vaccine information, and influenza vaccinations. Dr. Lantigua answered questions from the audience on topics related to the flu season in times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The support of the health and wellness series is part of the commitment of CUIMC and NYP to work together with the community and is also part of a wider collaborative effort to improve overall health outcomes in northern Manhattan.

To learn more about the series, please contact Nancy Gautier-Matos from NYP Community Affairs at [email protected] or Carla Alvarez from the CUIMC Office of Community Service Programs at [email protected].