Long Island Report (01.13.2014)
An article in the Long Island Report, New York’s Hofstra University paper, stated that, according to the recently released 2014–17 Nassau County Community Health Assessment, several communities the county deemed “high risk” have recorded decreases in STD and teen pregnancy rates. For example, Roosevelt, Hempstead, and Uniondale—three of the nine high-risk communities—accounted for the county’s highest teen pregnancy rates in 2008. The recent health assessment shows that the teen pregnancy rates in these communities have decreased from 85 to 48 per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19. The new rate is still higher than the rate in the rest of the country.
Gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis rates also dropped significantly. Planned Parenthood of Nassau County (PPNC), Long Island’s largest provider of family planning and reproductive healthcare, received credit for the improvements in STD statistics. PPNC provided education programs in three of the high-risk communities—Hempstead, Roosevelt, and Westbury—using a nationally tested, evidence-based curriculum. According to PPNC and Nassau County health reports, with the new curriculum, Roosevelt had a 30-percent drop in teen pregnancy and Hempstead a 17-percent drop. Sarah Miller, vice president of education and public affairs at PPNC, attributed the programs’ success to their focus on empowering women.
Nassau County Department of Health also attributed part of the improvement in pregnancy and STD rates to the expansion of quality healthcare. The health report acknowledged that lack of insurance and the inability to cover co-pays and deductibles prevents some individuals from accessing medical care. Health officials expressed hope that the Affordable Care Act would improve women’s health on Long Island, by ensuring that women would have the care they need regardless of their ability to pay. Some individuals with the “pro-life point of view” criticized PPNC programs as focusing on abortions, but JoAnn Smith, president and CEO of PPNC, emphasized that the organization practices and teaches patients prevention.