4th Annual "Building a Culture of Health in Newark" Conference Targets COVID Impact

Oct 22, 2020

The virtual 4th annual conference resumes this Monday October 26
Credit Believe in a Healthy Newark

Believe in a Healthy Newark resumes its 4th Annual “Building a Culture of Health in Newark” Conference Monday, October 26.

The virtual conference engages nationally-recognized speakers to discuss the physical, social, emotional and economic impacts of COVID-19.

The Chair of the Believe in a a Healthy Newark steering committee Dr. Denise V. Rodgers and Catherine Wilson, President and CEO at United Way of Greater Newark joined (via zoom) WBGO News Director Doug Doyle on the WBGO Journal.

This year's conference is titled “Promoting Health, Healing, and Sustainable Recovery”.

The conference seeks to present information and provide resources to help attendees cope with the trauma experienced during this time of crisis as a result of the: pandemic, racial unrest; increased psychological distress due to the continued unwarranted killings of Black men and women; increases in food insecurity across Newark; potential for a housing crisis if the moratorium on evictions is lifted in Newark; and, the increased rates of depression and anxiety.

Dr. Rodgers, who is also the VIce Chancellor of Interprofessional Programs at Rutgers, says in planning the fourth conference we would be confronted with a pandemic and that as a result they would need to do the conference virtually.

" We need as an organization, Believe in a Healthy Newark, to shift our focus to COVID, away from some of the other issues that we've been spending a lot of time with in order to help the residents of Newark and the greater community be better prepared to confront this pandemic.  So we took an overall health approach."

Monday's final session of the conference Recovering from the Economic Impact of COVID-19. 

Catherine Wilson, President and CEO at United Way of Greater Newark joined the WBGO Journal via Zoom
Credit Zoom/Doug Doyle

Wilson says Newark is a city that on a good day it had an umployment rate of 10 percent and has been as high as 16 percent during the pandemic.

"Overall, non-profit giving is down roughly 30 to 5o percent.  The impact of that not just on employment but in the community has been felt obviously in the home, the small business community and it just reverberates right throughout our lives.  So what does that mean?  It means our residents are more food insecure.  We've seen a lot of efforts among our non-profit partners among the city to try and support and get the food out to our residents maybe experiencing food insecurity for the first time.  People are afraid of getting COVID, there are getting COVID, people who are uninsured, people who have lost their job and no longer have health insurance.  This too will impact their overall household budget as their fighting this virus in order to get well.  There's a lot of different aspects of how economics plays into this and how it affects people in their real lives."

Wilson will be one of the key local speakers on Monday.  Other speakers include Wole Coaxum, Founder of Mobility Capital Finance (MoCaFi) and Frederick Wherry, PhD, Townsend Martin, Class of 1917 Professor of Sociology at Princeton University and Allison Ladd, Deputy Mayor and Director of Newark’s Economic and Housing Development Department.

Breakout sessions will discuss access to needed services and employment. Speakers include: Carlos Rodriguez, President and CEO, Community Food Bank of New Jersey; Beverly Lynn, President and CEO, Programs for Parents; Amina Bey, MPA, Executive Director, Newark Emergency Services for Families; Rodney Brutton, Chief Administrative Officer/Director of Workforce Development, New Community Career & Technical Institute; Della Walker, Jr., Project Director of Newark 2020, Newark Alliance.

Dr. Denise Rodgers, chair of the Believe in a Healthy Newark, was a guest on the WBGO Journal via Zoom with WBGO's Doug Doyle
Credit Zoom/Doug Doyle

While Dr. Rodgers stresses Newark has been hit hard by the pandemic, she says the City has worked very hard to do a lot of eduation, about the need to wear masks and be socially distant. 

"The real challenge for Newark is the challenge we're facing in the state as a whole and in the country as a whole and that is that cases are going up.  Cases are going up in part because people are tired.  People have what we call "COVID fatigue.  I think all of us together need to actively combat that fatigue because if we don't continue to wear our masks and to wear them properly, including over the nose and mouth and if we don't continue to physically distant, if we don't continue to wash our hands we will see ever greater numbers than we're seeing now.  Our nightmare scenario is to go back to the kinds of numbers that we saw in the spring with just an overwhelming number of people utilizing our healthcare system, almost taking it to the breaking point."

This session will begin on Monday, October 26th at 11:00am Eastern Time. If you’re interested in attending session three, register here. Registration is now open. Separate registration for each session and individual breakout sessions is required. 

The Believe in Healthy Newark Conference is sponsored by United Way of Greater Newark and The Nicholson Foundation.

The Believe in a Healthy Newark initiative started in 2015 with funding from the New Jersey Health Initiatives Building a Culture of Health in New Jersey – Communities Moving to Action program. 

Click above to hear the entire interview about the 4th annual conference.