Beyond its doors staying open year-round, to help a neighbor warm-up or cool down during inclement weather, its garden out back is loaded with all-kinds of vegetables for residents to enjoy, freely.
And so are educational books, stacked on shelves for kids to read. They’re also free of charge. Furthermore, hygiene bags are provided weekly, in-conjunction with a monthly breakfast.
The resourceful services and pro bono approach of St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center have been making a huge difference in the lives of its neighbors for 25 years.
Newly installed Executive Director Candice Lucas Ed.D,MBA, describes the Center as an integrated practice, comprehensive in scope. And a patient-center that performs it duties through racial equity lens.
Before becoming the center’s executive director, Lucas led, the University of Rochester’s Community Health Services division, that was focused on measures of prevention.
She was working directly with people, seeing first-hand, the disparities in health outcomes that people of color and people on the lower-end of the social-economic ladder such as, the uninsured, underinsured and the uninsurable; meaning people who couldn’t get health insurance.
“At the University of Rochester, the population and the work at the Center is identical,” Lucas acknowledges. “So, to me, this is an expansion of my previous work. It wasn’t ‘only’ about cancer prevention. It’s about the whole person--medically, socially, and mentally. We’re looking to provide, what-is-it, that an individual need to reach optimal health outcome, which is a lot more than just their relationship with their doctors,” she points-out. “We try to wrap services around the individuals, so it’s truly patient-centered care. This model resonated with me. And I think, it’s the right way to do it. And, I wanted to be a part of that.”
Another instrumental part of the Center’s efforts going forward places an emphasis on expanding and continuing current relationships and partnerships with similar agencies.
Lucas points-out, the Center’s access department in referrals only happens because of community partnerships. And she also connects, becoming the executive director at St. Joseph’s, a result of a partnership developed during her previous role at the University of Rochester, in-being able to work with patients that both agencies were helping simultaneously, achieve optimal health.
“Also, I’ve been working with Action for Better Community (ABC) Executive Director Jerome Underwood, since his days, working with the Rochester City School District (RCSD), as well as Wade Norwood, the newly installed Executive Director of Common Ground Health, for many years,” Lucas said. “So, partnerships are key to anything to what we have to do in our community and jobs.”
Lucas, as chair of the African American Health Coalition, which is convene by Common Ground Heath, purpose is to look at data surrounding health disparities and health equities and try to find a way to mobilize the community to address those issues and look at the systems that are causing those issues and try to change them.
“Observing St. Joseph’s focus on health disparities including structural and racial inequities, I knew I was in the right place,” Lucas said. “St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center is bold, innovative, unique and forward thinking. They put it right-out there---that structural racism is an issue and we got to work on it,” she recalls. “Two years ago, in 2016, St. Joseph had the great idea to start a structural racism initiative that would bring together organizations to talk about issues around structural racism regarding policies, openness, welcoming and inclusiveness. Over the past two years, 28 organization have engaged in this initiative and got involved to say, “Yes,” we agree that structural racism is real, and we want to see what we could do from our vantage point to try to diminish some of its impact and effect.”
To learn more about the Center and its services visit: www.sjncenter.org or call 585 325-5620 or FAX: 585 325-3017.