Matt Baney Makes Giant Strides for Community Health

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Matt Baney cares about the health of his community, and his work with Mt. Sinai hospital reflects that level of care everyday.

For two years, Baney has been the administrative director at Mt. Sinai, overseeing their HIV services program. Prior to that, Baney spent 18 years doing similar work at St. Vincent's before it shut its doors.

Baney speaks eagerly to Our Town about two significant grants the hospital has received over the past year while under his supervision. Mt. Sinai received a federal grant for women, infants and adolescents with HIV for the hospital's uptown program, as well as an HIV prevention grant from the city's Department of Health for their uptown and downtown locations.

Baney says formerly only two organizations had been funded in Manhattan, including the Mt. Sinai program, so the new grants are a major step forward for HIV prevention and care in the city.

"We're doing our best to educate the community not only about HIV and prevention but also about the health status of the community," says Baney, who notes hospital representatives attend community board meetings to educate people about HIV statistics and general health issues affecting the city.

"We focus on HIV," says Baney, "but we emphasize other health issues too."

These healthcare issues include major risks like obesity, hypertension and diabetes, as well as doctor shortages and the necessity of primary care doctors.

"The best prevention method," explains Baney, "is to have a physician involved in primary care." This has been shown to reduce the chance of getting HIV as well as promote general health in at-risk individuals.

"We want to get people into primary care services and we're doing the best we can to make an impact," he adds.

"The challenges we face are the ones everyone faces-shortages in funding and changes in medicaid reimbursement," says Baney. "It's a challenge to continue to provide and expand services for less money."

There's another issue Baney and his colleagues work to address: "The patient population is overwhelmingly black and hispanic," he says. "It's also challenging to recruit Spanish speaking providers so we work extra hard and we have been successful. Sometimes it takes longer to recruit [Spanish speakers] but I'd rather have someone who reflects the population we're treating."

Baney says the HIV services program has some projects underway for the future, but many of them involve continuing to make current practices even better and more effective. This involves evaluating testing programs, getting more people in the door for testing, spreading the prevention message, maintaining supportive networks for patients who are HIV-positive and more.

"Mt. Sinai has an open door to these populations," says Baney. "We really want to help them, we want to reduce any barriers people have to getting tested. We're here to help."

When he's not actively fulfilling his administrative duties at the hospital, Baney likes spending down time at the beach or a house on Fire Island he shares with friends. He also runs a theater during the summer and on weekends, and works with other organizations involved with HIV prevention and care.

Baney says he also enjoys spending time with his large family, including his dog Bridget, whom he rescued. He hopes to "recruit" another rescue dog soon.
In general, when it comes to his tendency to always offer a helping hand, Baney says: "[his] personal life and professional life are the same."

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