I was so excited to read about the Children’s Health Study (Queens Tapped for Largest Children’s Health Study in U.S. History, February 19) that will be conducted by the NIH in Queens. Investigating the long-term effects of genes and environmental conditions on a child’s health from infancy to early adulthood, will yield significant results that should impact health-care initiatives for the Queens Community. In one example, the asthma related hospitalizations for children in Queens are 15% higher than other children across the country.
However, I have concerns about the participants in the study. It is imperative that the true population of Queens be represented. As stated, Queens is the most culturally diverse county in the United States. What out reach process has been put in place to ensure that the marginalized members of our community and the undocumented immigrants will be represented? It is important that Ms. Christensen spoke at Community Board 5’s weekly meeting to encourage residents to volunteer for the study, however, I wonder how many underserved minorities and undocumented immigrants attend Community Board 5’s weekly meeting. These mothers and children are integral members of our community; they are students, employees, neighbors, and recipients of local health-care. This population must be represented in the NIH research if the results are to have value and meaning for Queens County. The local organizers from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene must use a grass roots approach in order to attract an equitable representation of the residents of the neighborhoods that the NIH has targeted to study. The recent closing of St. John’s Queens Hospital and Mary Immaculate Hospital will have a substantial impact on the accessibility and delivery of health-care to many of the participants in this landmark study. Let us not miss a great opportunity to have the unique diversity of Queens represented in this important research.
Kathleen Karsten, RN