The Coalition on Positive Health Empowerment (COPE) is a 501c3 non-profit organization that was formed to address a significant gap in access to Hepatitis C prevention, education and treatment in underserved communities most affected by the disease. In its efforts to bridge this gap, COPE utilizes a trans-disciplinary approach that integrates community outreach, research, advocacy, clinical methods and works across population levels (individuals, groups, health care providers) to address viral hepatitis and other chronic illnesses. Headquartered in Harlem, COPE is a staple in the community and works diligently to meet the needs of its diverse and multicultural clientele throughout the five boroughs of New York City.
COPE’s mission to improve the health of underserved populations affected by viral hepatitis and other chronic diseases through education, testing, care coordination, advocacy and strategic partnerships. Toward that end, our vision is to improve access to quality care for underserved populations by providing education and support and reducing the fear, stigma, and discrimination associated with viral hepatitis and other chronic conditions.
The Coalition On Positive Health Empowerment achieves its mission by working in underserved communities and implementing services that are responsive to the needs of the populations being reached.
Programs & Services
COPE offers services to patients, the general public as well as health care and human services professionals. On an annual basis, COPE serves approximately 1,300 clients. In 2014, COPE held 5 educational webinars of which 2 were held in Spanish; 12 community forums; tested 1,738 people for Hepatitis; and through care coordination, assisted 18% of clients to achieved viral suppression.
Its programs include:
• Health Education- these programs educate the general public on Hepatitis C (HCV) and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. Its most successful education program is Hep. C University, a series of workshops that covers disease etiology, treatment and prevention. COPE also provides train-the trainer workshops and webinars for health and human service providers at the local and national level.
• Counseling and Testing-the Hepatitis C Awareness program focuses counseling and testing activities in neighborhoods with high prevalence of HCV and targets individuals who have difficulty accessing and remaining in care. Provides HIV and HCV rapid and confirmatory testing.
• Care Coordination- this program integrates education, support, treatment; its goal is to assist individuals that are HCV positive access care, adhere to treatment and learn self-management.
• Advocacy- activities conducted under this program are for both hepatitis patients and the medical community at large to bring awareness to Hepatitis C, HIV and co infection.
COPE works closely with health outreach experts and consults with leaders, activists, community boards, churches, schools, and senior centers to learn about what the community needs. Through collaborative efforts with community organizations, COPE has helped to identify outreach strategies that work best for the targeted populations and the types of services that are needed to link and maintain these populations in care.
The populations served by COPE are diverse and represent many sectors and consist of the general public, hard-to-reach populations, patients and health care providers. COPE serves communities with populations that are disproportionately affected by HCV and HIV. Its geographic areas of focus include South Bronx, Harlem, Brooklyn and Queens. The majority of individuals served are women (57%). In terms of race, African Americans consist of (72%) of the population, followed by Hispanics (23%), Other (3%) and Whites (2%). The average age of those served is 53 years old. COPE’s programs target populations at risk for HCV such as baby boomers, veterans and people living with HIV and people who inject drugs.
COPE is well known for its in-depth knowledge of the etiology of HCV and the social factors that impact treatment and prevention among diverse populations. Its work with primary care and human services providers have centered on education and training on these issues. COPE has access to a network of providers that are experts in the field of HCV and have experience on issues such as HCV disparities, reaching people of color and treatment and prevention. This provider network, primarily physicians, is utilized to implement education and training for other health and human service providers who are new to HCV.
Collaborations and strategic partnerships are the cornerstones of COPE’s programs. The success it has achieved over the years would not have been possible without its community partners. COPE partners with a diverse group of organizations such as hospitals, health centers, community-based organizations, shelters, detox programs, rehabilitation centers, local and national government entities, pharmaceutical companies, harm reduction organizations and faith-based organizations. The roles of these collaborating partners are varied; they range from providing COPE access to patients/clients, acting as referral sources to participating in workshops and on-site trainings. COPE’s extensive experiences in engaging hard to reach populations in prevention and treatment and its ability to link individuals who are HCV positives to care are much sought after by its partner organizations. COPE has partnered with community based organizations to provide testing, prevention and care coordination to targeted populations such as those born between 1945-1965 (Baby Boomers); young, black gay men; active injection drug users.
COPE has a strong track record for establishing relationships with community organizations and has well established linkages with the following organizations: New York City Department of Health; Merck; SAMHSA, and Westchester Medical Center Harlem United, Housing Works, Iris House, SMART University, Bailey House, AIDS Service Center of NY, HIV Law Project, ARTC (Addiction Research Treatment Center), Veterans Administration Hospitals (Bronx, NY), APICHA (Asian and Pacific Islanders Coalition on HIV/AIDS), the Latino Commission on AIDS, Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Black Veterans for Social Justice, and Black sororities and fraternities at City College, CUNY for the purposes of training and testing events as well as reciprocal service referrals.
In addition to our partnerships to provide testing, prevention, and care coordination, COPE works with many leading experts in Hepatitis C and other chronic illnesses to provide essential health education and awareness through innovative educational offerings, including monthly community forums, a 6-part intensive training, and webinars. Such collaborative experts and partners include Doug Dietrich from Mt. Sinai Medical Center; Dr. Donald Kotler and SLRH, Gay Men of African Descent (GMAD); SMART (Sisterhood Mobilized for AIDS/HIV Research & Treatment); Iris House; and NBLCA.
COPE understand that community involvement is crucial to its success in meeting the needs to the communities it serves and to ensure that every person living with Hepatitis C has the right to curative treatment whenever they are ready. COPE is a member of local, state, and national networks, advisory boards, and advocacy groups:
• National Viral Hepatitis Round Table,
• Hepatitis Community Advisory Board
• NY City Planning Council: Consumer and Policy Committee
• NY City Taskforce Members
• Caring Ambassadors Hepatitis C Leadership Coalition
• Black Gay Alliance for NYS AIDS Alliance
• NYS Hepatitis C Coalition
Organizational Leadership and Staff
The Coalition on Positive Health Empowerment (COPE) is operated professionally, ethically, and in accordance with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYCDOHMH), and best governance, management and financial practices. COPE’s nine (9) member Board of Directors are clinically trained professionals engaged in strategic planning, program development, and overall organizational wellness. COPE believes staffing impacts service delivery and therefore is committed to promoting diversity and cultural competency. COPE’s staff has similar lived experiences as the populations it serves.