SE Queens Chamber fights health disparity 1

Roxanne Simone Lord Marcelle, president of the SEQCC.

The Rev. Roxanne Simone Lord Marcelle, president of the Southeast Queens Chamber of Commerce, aims to fight health disparities in the community. Later this summer, she will have the help of a monomynous talk-show host turned philanthropist and activist for racial injustice: Oprah.

On July 30, the SEQCC will host a health and wealth expo at the Harvest Room on 160th Street in Jamaica from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Then, on Aug. 10, Lord invites community members to a virtual screening of the Oprah Winfrey-executive produced documentary, “The Color of Care,” at 6:30 p.m., part of the organization’s effort to inform community members about the ongoing health disparity crisis.

Lord says she noticed health disparate conditions in Southeast Queens after she moved her juice bar from Kew Gardens to South Jamaica. A naturopathic doctor, she has received significantly more patients with high blood pressure and other stress-related conditions following the move.

The data backs up her observation. Thirty-seven percent of adults in the neighborhoods of Jamaica and Hollis have been told they have high blood pressure, according to the city Department of Health, higher than the city average of 28 percent.

Additionally, Jamaica and Hollis adults suffer from obesity and diabetes at higher rates than the city average.

“People of color are not living as long as we should,” Lord said, “while our counterparts, Caucasians, are living longer lives.”

Nationwide, life expectancy for white Americans was 77.6 years in 2020, compared to 71.8 years for Black Americans, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

According to data from Queens Community District 12, 66 percent of residents living in the Jamaica and Hollis area are Black, while 17 percent are Hispanic and 2 percent are white.

The health and wealth expo will aim to provide Southeast Queens community members with best practices for staying healthy and avoiding the conditions reflected in those anamolous statistics. Lord says pharmaceutical students from St. John’s University and representatives from the New York-Presbyterian hospital pharmaceuticals department will attend the event, along with experts in holistic and plant-based medicinal approaches, plus dieticians and fitness trainers.

“This is the perfect opportunity to kickstart your health journey and [learn] how to approach it in the right ways,” Lord said in a statement.

Following the expo, the SEQCC will host the documentary screening, as part of Lord’s effort to build what she calls an “Oprah tree.” She wants the values of the 68-year-old retired talk show host to trickle down to members of the Southeast Queens community through events like the screening.

Lord says the SEQCC is in the process of planning in-person watch parties for the documentary. As for whether or not Oprah herself will make an appearance during the virtual viewing event, Lord is unsure.

“I asked,” she said. “I asked if she will be coming on to say a few words.”