Keeping Hardworking Taxi Drivers Healthy

NewYork-Presbyterian’s Health Fair reaches an underserved community with acute healthcare needs.

More than 300 people braved pouring rain and lined up for blocks to receive free medical screenings, health counseling, and, when needed, follow-up during this summer’s 12th annual Taxi Drivers’ Health Fair hosted by the NewYork-Presbyterian Ambulatory Care Network.

The fair reaches mostly Latino livery drivers in northern Manhattan and the South Bronx, an underserved and often uninsured population that faces unique health challenges.

Increasing Access to Healthcare

Many drivers work long and stressful hours, sit for long periods, eat on the go, and may not have time to access the healthcare they need. In response, NewYork-Presbyterian healthcare teams conduct annual screenings for blood pressure, vision, cholesterol, glucose, prostate cancer, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. The drivers also are offered counseling on healthy lifestyle choices and help with stress management, says Deborah Acevedo, R.N., community outreach nurse coordinator of NewYork-Presbyterian Ambulatory Care Network’s Outreach Program.

Bernardo De la Rosa, who used to drive 17 hours a day before he reduced his hours because of health problems, now has a primary care doctor, thanks to the fair.

“The doctors discovered things that I didn’t know I had,” he says of the cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, and prostate issues the fair’s health workers found.

Acevedo says De la Rosa is just one of many in need of help connecting to such services.

“Some of the health issues that cabdrivers can face are hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, and also a host of genitourinary problems,” Acevedo says. “We want to help them address some of their health needs.”

The need is apparent. Fifteen participants required same-day intervention and were walked directly into the NewYork-Presbyterian Urgicare Center. Three others were taken to the Emergency Department for hypertension or chest pain, more than 40 underwent tests at the HIV/STI screening truck, and 189 drivers took advantage of free prostate cancer screenings, in which a physical exam and PSA blood test were performed. If needed, drivers were referred for a biopsy and follow-up care. Participants with abnormal results received a follow-up phone call to answer questions and connect them to primary care.

Intervening to Save Lives

“Within the Hispanic population, prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers. Yet for some, this is their first exam,” says Dr. G. Joel DeCastro, a urologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and an assistant professor in the Department of Urology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “Over the past few years, we have detected several cases of aggressive prostate cancer. Those patients have gone on to be treated and are doing very well.”

Dr. DeCastro has been providing prostate screenings at the fair since he became an attending physician at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia six years ago.

“This health fair and the prostate cancer screening is one way I can give back to the community,” he says, “and that’s very important to us.”

Acevedo agrees. She says she is inspired to help organize the fair every year because she grew up in the South Bronx and understands the need for these types of services.

“My passion is to connect people who are in need to excellent services,” she says.

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