As recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and Bright Futures, the Maimonides Children’s Hospital has been screening all patients and their families for social determinants of health since 2019. The physician and health community has begun to identify social determinants of health, how they impact the wellness of patients, and steps that can be taken to help support good health. Social determinants of health include factors such as housing, food, schools, access to safe outdoor space, inequity, and structural racism. To help address some of these social needs, Maimonides Children’s Hospital partners with community-based organizations such as the Arab American Family Support Center, Jewish Childcare Association, WIC, Challenge and Autism Cares Early Intervention, Catholic Charities, CAMBA and New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), but they also seek to innovate how providers can address such concerns.
After observing housing challenges for her patients, Dr. Yonit Lax, an attending physician in the Divisions of General Pediatrics, Hospital Medicine and Population Health, spearheaded an initiative to provide physician-generated letters to landlords of patients who reported poor housing conditions. Remarkably, the effort resulted in landlord action (89%) and improved housing conditions (74%) over a seven-month period. Dr. Lax’s fierce commitment to her patients is evident in her efforts to encourage other physicians to use their creative problem-solving skills and voices to do the same.