MDP Gebru & von Qualen Field Experience in New Orleans

As part of a new summer graduate student research experience, MDP students Eliel Gebru and Frieda von Qualen worked with City of New Orleans Health Department (NOHD) to strengthen partnerships among state and local governments, healthcare providers, educators and businesses. In an effort to design and deliver comprehensive, coordinated services at the new $19 million Andrew P. Sanchez Community Center located in the Lower Ninth Ward, the students met and interviewed various community stakeholders and completed interviews with multi-service sites nationwide.

The newly build state-of-the-art 65,000 square foot community center replaces a 50,000 square foot community center which was demolished after Hurricane Katrina. Speaking at the new community center shortly after its grand opening President Obama said, “The project of rebuilding here wasn’t just to restore the city as it had been it was to build a city as it should be — a city where everyone, no matter what they look like, how much money they’ve got, where they come from, where they’re born, has a chance to make it.” These sentiments of hope and resilience are shared by the communities of the Lower Nine Ward, a community that has suffered the most damage but have felt forgotten. For the estimated 2,800 community members who have returned to live in the Lower Nine the new center represents hope and is seen as a hub for the community providing a one-stop shop offering a wide array of services. 

Recognizing that “differences in neighborhood conditions powerfully predict who is healthy, who is sick, and who lives longer”, NOHD has strategically designed services in the center to include the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), exercise facility, nutrition classes, food vouchers to use at farmers’ markets, Head Start, a senior center, and mobile dental and health clinic. This center is an example of another path to healthy living and a step in the right direction to eliminate the structural inequalities that have plagued the city pre and post Hurricane Katrina. (picture)
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