The Weehawken American Legion Post 18 hosted its very first Women’s Wellness Day in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month that brought together a broad spectrum of health care providers, as well as legal and financial services’ non-profits.
Troy Mack, of American Legion Post 18, helped organize yesterday’s event along with the North Hudson Partnership, and Hackensack Meridian Health Palisade Medical Center – the main event sponsor.
In an interview, Mack said that the organizations in attendance operate across the spectrum of health and wellness needs, as well as a variety of service providers such as Hudson Partnership CMO, which is a private not-for-profit agency that provides wellness care for Hudson County youth ages 3-21, and Northeast New Jersey Legal Services that offers comprehensive legal representation to low-income, senior and disabled residents who have civil legal problems and cannot afford a private attorney.
He emphasized that events such as yesterday’s provide critical outreach to the community who may otherwise not know about the availability and take advantage of the affordable resources.
“There is a very important role for outreach, and an opportunity for neighbors to come together as neighbors. That’s how you build bonds of affection and build bonds of loyalty so that we take care of each other,” Mack began.
“That’s why at this event you have everybody from the North Bergen Health Department to the Guttenberg Community Affairs Department to us right here at the American Legion, along with all of the non-profit providers to bring people out so that [residents] know that they never have to suffer alone.”
We interviewed one of those non-profit providers, Jeffry Gutierrez, a licensed social worker who founded Our Team Works and is a part-owner of Rocio Day, LLC, which provides counseling services for mental health issues such as trauma, anxiety and depression to residents who do not have the financial means or health care coverage to pay for group or individual psychotherapy sessions.
He explained to fix that problem his non-profit brings groups together to use its facility to see a clinician and pay a small fee of $20 or $30 per group therapy session.
He also noted, unfortunately, many North Hudson County residents suffer from depression and anxiety because of notoriously high poverty rates and low-paying job opportunities, and that the immigrant community suffers from trauma because of their experience of fleeing their homeland and trying to adjust to a new life in a new country.
“Our services are being looked for by a lot of our population, especially in Hudson County, we’re dealing with a lot of poverty, we’re dealing with a lot of domestic violence and job issues. A lot of economic issues … that brings up anxiety and depression. We have a big immigration population in the community, and there’s a lot of trauma attached to that,” said Gutierrez.
But he emphasized that with all the North Hudson County municipalities and their respective wellness organizations joining together under the auspices of the North Hudson Partnership ensures that the community and residents have access to affordable resources to help them alleviate mental health stresses.
We also spoke with Nikki Mederos, director of external affairs and community outreach for Hackensack Meridian Health Palisade Medical Center, a 202-bed hospital system that serves a population of 400,000 in Hudson County and Southern Bergen County.
She was joined by the hospital’s nursing staff who were performing free Hemoglobin A1C blood work tests to monitor and screen for diabetes, as well as conducting blood pressures.
Just as Mack talked about the importance of outreach to the community, Mederos said it was all about resources, education and awareness.
“At Palisades Medical Center we have an amazing breast center that we just opened in our medical office building and such an array of different resources, and we’re there to make sure that the community that we serve is serviced,” said Mederos.