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NY doctors head to Guyana to address health disparities

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NEW YORK (PIX11) — Doctors at Northwell Health want to better serve immigrant communities in New York, so they are traveling nearly three-thousand miles to Guyana.

dr Eric Cioe Pena is the Director of Global Health at Northwell Health and an emergency physician on Staten Island. He’s also heading up a mission in Guyana — the South American country, culturally connected to the Caribbean, to help build cultural competency NY.

“We are going to be speaking with doctors working in health systems and mental health services,” he told PIX11 News.

New York is home to the largest Guyanese-American population in the country. dr Cioe Peña said that’s why going there to understand how their health problems began is important.

“There are things communities are genetically or environmentally predisposed to — elevated rates of cardiac disease in West Indian Americans are common,” he added.

The team of more than a dozen is also going to help the country rebuild its healthcare system. The country faces a burden from non-communicable diseases.

A group went back officially in November to survey the country, hospitals and clinics and meet with health and government. It included medical professionals in psychiatry, pediatric, OBGYN and family medicine.

The medical professionals will be visiting all regions in Guyana and as they learn tropical medicine and broaden their cross-cultural understanding to help address health disparities in New York City— they’re also hoping to build better trust among their patients and their patients’ families .

The team of doctors from Northwell Health will leave Monday. According to hospital staff, there will be a rotation of doctors and medical professionals in Guyana for five years, providing services there and bringing back what they’ve learned to their patients in the tri-state area.

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