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March 1, 2017

Adelphi Is Preparing for Emergencies, One Nail Salon at a Time

by Avital Louria-Hahn

Adelphi University’s Center for Health Innovation (CHI) is reaching out to hundreds of immigrant nail salon employees across Long Island in an effort to educate them and their families about emergency preparedness.

Many salon workers and other service industry employees in the area are immigrants and often don’t speak English. The pilot program targets Mandarin, Korean, Vietnamese and Spanish speakers and aims to put information about how to prepare for storms, severe weather and power outages into their hands.

Adelphi’s Center for Health Innovation is reaching out to hundreds of immigrant nail salon employees across Long Island in an effort to educate them and their families about emergency preparedness.The idea was born in the fall of 2016, when Meghan McPherson, assistant director of CHI, was visiting her nail salon. With Hurricane Matthew approaching, the Mandarin-speaking owner told McPherson that she found it hard to understand the instructions being broadcast on local news. McPherson played a public service video subtitled in Mandarin, the town’s No. 1 foreign language, which CHI had produced a year earlier as part of the town’s Resilience Grant. After viewing it, McPherson related, the owner said, “We want to be safe too.”

“That was a poignant statement,” said McPherson, who promptly identified more than 100 more nail salons listed in the town. By the time distribution was complete, 444 leaflets in multiple languages had been given out in 122 salons. Plus, McPherson said, “I got a few hugs along the way.” 

The center’s initiative was taken on in collaboration with the Town of North Hempstead. Translated materials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) were also included in the information packets.

“In a place like Long Island that is vulnerable to disasters, we are supplying culturally tailored information to communities that otherwise would not be receiving this information,” said Elizabeth Cohn, Ph.D., CHI’s executive director.

The outreach is part of the center’s Community Resiliency Initiative, which contributes to the education of Adelphi students and the health of Long Island communities through academic-community partnerships that promote social and community resiliency. The program supports Adelphi’s undergraduate and graduate degrees in emergency management.

Emergency preparedness has long been a concern for the center, whose 2012 poll revealed that nearly half of U.S. adults were unprepared for emergencies. The center has reached out to towns in a variety of initiatives, including activities associated with Resiliency Grants, to identify gaps in communities’ overall health, including emergency preparedness. The center is now looking to extend its emergency preparedness outreach to restaurant workers in the Adelphi area.


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