Abuse During COVID-19

Possible Spike During the Pandemic?

At a time where people are quarantined in their homes along with romantic partners, children, and pets, it is unfortunately not a surprise that many experts are fearing a spike in abuse as a result of this pandemic (1). While the article Why Child Welfare Experts Fear a Spike of ABuse During COVID-19 mostly focuses on child abuse, it would sadly not be a surprise if there was a spike in all types of abuse because as the article states, ‘It all just adds stress on top of stress,’ she said. ‘Any time there’s increased stress increases the risk of abuse on children.’” and the same is likely true for domestic and animal abuse. Based on our class definition of health: “an overall physical, emotional, and mental well-being and having access to achieve this disregarding socio-economic status and background” I think that this is an important topic to discuss because abuse can negatively affect all three types of well-being. With that being said, I have gathered some resources for people (and people who care for animals) to get help.

Domestic Abuse Resources

First of all, the National Domestic Abuse Hotline phone number is (800) 799-7233. Additionally, there are local resources available including a number of Women’s shelters which are listed here. There is also the option to contact the Adult and Family Services whose objective is to “Provide emergency services for victims of domestic violence and their children (2). More information about this can be found here and it is worth mentioning that these services are not based on income. 

Child Abuse Resources

With schools being closed, children are spending a lot of time at home and that could be problematic if they are living in an abusive situation. In Saratoga County, there is a Children’s Protective Service and that hotline number is 884-4151. More information about CPS can be found here where they outline both the protective and preventative objectives as well as the services provided. Some of these programs include but aren’t limited to case management, case planning, casework contacts, and daycare services. No child should be mistreated, and luckily there are services in place to prevent that from happening. I could not find any articles describing the way CPS has adjusted to COVID-19 in my community, but I am wondering how they are continuing to help keep children safe when school is remote and they don’t have as many possible opportunities to receive help.

Animal Abuse Resources

If an animal is being abused in Clifton Park then someone should call the Capital District Humane Association at (518) 664-1237 because they are the resource for Saratoga County (3). As a side note, I was also very happy to see that this website explicitly explains how you should and should not be taking care of an animal so that there is absolutely no excuse for anyone to say they didn’t know the law. Animal shelters are also a great resource if an animal has been mistreated because they can be brought to the shelter in the hopes that they will be adopted and from there they will have a better chance at a good life. 

How Can This Be Prevented?

All people and creatures deserve to be treated with kindness, especially during difficult times like what we are currently experiencing. There are a few resources available in my community to help make sure this is possible, but I think this is a very important issue and wish that there was more that could be done to make sure no one has to experience such a horrible thing. My suggestion would be some sort of preventative course of action, does anyone have any ideas about this?    

Sources:

(1) https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/why-child-welfare-experts-fear-a-spike-of-abuse-during-covid-19

(2) https://www.saratogacountyny.gov/departments/social-services/domestic-violence/

(3) https://cdha.net/pet-resources/animal-neglect-and-cruelty/

My Community’s Response to COVID-19

Community Response

From seniors not being able to graduate, to weddings being canceled, to people being furloughed from their jobs, to overworked health care workers, I think it is fair to say that no one is happy with the impacts that COVID-19 is having. However, it truly is for the greater good of our community’s health. For Clifton Park, and the rest of New York for that matter, Governor Cuomo has been giving daily briefings to keep the public up to date on information regarding the coronavirus and the regulations that are in place, a link to those briefings can be found here or on the Helpful Links page of this blog. Additionally, the Town of Clifton Park website has a daily report about cases and that can be found here. The current plan is to start reopening certain regions in seven different stages in order of risk level and after different criteria have been met (more information about the phases is outlined here). Up until now, we have been closed except for essential businesses that have primarily been food and stores such as Target and Walmart and places that can do sidewalk pickup. With this being said, I am personally a little bit worried about making moves to reopen things because without a vaccine or cure at the moment I am afraid that this disease could begin to spread rapidly again and we will be back where we started. However, I trust the people who know more about this disease than I do, and as of right now, the Capital Region has been cleared by the governor to enter phase 1 which allows construction, agriculture, forestry, pickup/dropoff retail, manufacturing, and wholesale trade to resume (1). The reason we are able to move to this phase is that people have been social distancing and wearing the appropriate protective gear of masks (and gloves if they choose to).

How Can We Help?

While not all of us are essential/health care workers, there are still little things we can all do to help our community. First, PLEASE continue to social distance and wear the appropriate protective wear- even if you don’t think you are at risk, you are helping the people who are! Second, I have personally been using an app called HowWeFeel where I check in every day to say if I feel symptomatic, how much contact I have had with people outside of my house, etc. and it is meant to help trace the spread of COVID-19 (2). And third, the Red Cross is in desperate need of general blood/ plasma donations and they are also collecting plasma from people who have recovered from confirmed cases to possibly help fight COVID-19 (3). According to their website, they are taking all possible precautions to make the process as safe as possible so if people are willing and able to donate that would be one way to help! I know that Clifton Park will be having blood drives at the Southern Saratoga YMCA on May 22nd, the Halfmoon Town Hall on May 29th, and many more that can be found by searching by zip code here. Finally, some health care facilities are accepting donations for health care workers including Ellis and the link to donate there can be found here. The bottom line is that even though many of us are feeling helpless during this time, there are still ways that we can help each other and ways to make sure we aren’t making this any worse than it has to be. 

Sources:

(1) https://dailygazette.com/article/2020/05/19/cuomo-capital-region-cleared-to-start-phase-1-covid-19-reopening-wednesday

(2) https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/new-how-we-feel-app-aims-to-improve-covid-19-response/

(3) https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/coronavirus-safety.html

Photo:

https://ssir.org/articles/entry/civic_health_and_social_distancing

 

 

 

Health Care For Terminally Ill Patients

Caring for Terminally Ill Patients

No one wants to think about their mortality, but it is important that people know the resources that are available for the final stages of life. First of all, no matter where you live, it would be beneficial to consider filling out an Advanced Directive, essentially a living will, which allows you to designate a health care proxy and state some preferences for your end of life care should you be unable to voice your own wishes. As I said, it is not a cheery thought, but should anything ever happen, it makes it a little bit easier on grieving family and friends if they know the wishes of their loved ones and can carry them out to the best of their ability. 

Some people, however, are not as fortunate and don’t have the end of their life as merely a distant thought. Terminal illness is very distressing for many people and their families, but if there is any form of good news, it is that there are quite a few local resources available to help with this process and to make sure the patients get the best possible care up until the end. There are two types of care: palliative care and hospice care both with the goal of pain management and improving the quality of the end of life. Palliative care is more open in terms of life expectancy and services offered and focuses on longer-term care and guidance, while hospice care is meant for patients who have a life expectancy of months, not years, and must sign a DNR form in order to be admitted but provides full-time care to the patients.   

Locally in Scotia, New York, we have the Joan Nicole Prince Home which provides hospice care to terminally ill patients, their website can be found here. There is another facility called the Wesely Community located in Saratoga which provides long-term rehabilitation, Alzheimer’s and memory support, and chronically-ill adult care, in addition to hospice care (1). While hospice care facilities are great, some people might want to opt for a different plan, for example, there is also the option of at-home hospice care such as this one that I found called Kindred Health Care that has a location in Ballston Lake (2). This company offers something called Home Health which means that they will bring all of the necessary hospice care equipment right into the patient’s home. The fact that there are a variety of end of life health care places and systems for people who need this type of care is comforting because at least if someone is coming to terms with this difficult situation, that is one less thing they need to worry about. 

 

Euthanasia of Pets 

Since my blog is also meant to highlight animals and veterinary medicine, I think this is the best time to mention one of the worst parts of the profession. Veterinarians have the unique duty of performing euthanasia on pets which is something that requires a lot of compassion and is very difficult for both the owner and the vet. 

On the ASPCA website, I found some important information that outlines when it is actually a kinder choice to end your pet’s suffering by performing euthanasia, and I think this can help pet parents cope with the decision because they know they were doing what is best for the animal. However, the ASPCA website also provides some alternatives including pet hospice care which is, as they say, “Pet hospice is not a place, but a personal choice and philosophy based on the principle that death is a part of life and can be dignified… A participating veterinarian will teach pet parents how to provide intensive home care to keep an ill pet as comfortable as possible”. I am not sure if any of my local vets offer this service, but I think it is nice that some vets provide this as an alternative if it is reasonable. In addition to providing advice for pet end of life care, the website also suggests forming a support network to help the owners cope with the loss of the pet, and if the grief is unbearable it is recommended to see a doctor to discuss ways to cope.

For vets, it is easy to imagine how performing euthanasia frequently could be very troubling. With that being said, I believe it is important for there to be resources available to veterinarians, as well as pet owners so that they can get counseling or some sort of mental health support when dealing with such a difficult task. I was unable to find any resource like this, but I think this could go a long way in preventing veterinarians from committing suicide, something I have heard is relatively common. I found this article that discusses the correlation further. Health includes physical, emotional, and mental well-being, and making sure veterinarians are healthy will allow them to provide the best possible care to their patients.

Finally, euthanizing a pet is hard enough under normal circumstances, but during the COVID-19 pandemic? Unimaginable. I found this article which discusses how various vet clinics have been trying to handle this incredibly difficult situation, and I think it is worth the read!

 

Sources:

(1) https://www.thewesleycommunity.org/nursing-home/?gclid=CjwKCAjw7LX0BRBiEiwA__gNw495_wpq5lvogxq-fOoB8KgWsCMlqpcvaFXV1bmoGTdJbYqDZ5UmdxoCIVQQAvD_BwE

(2) https://www.kindredhealthcare.com/locations/home-health/ballston-lake-ny-2379

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health Care for Diverse Patients

 

Resources for Patients With Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities

In my community, we also have several resources for residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In Upstate New York, there is a not-for-profit organization called the Center for Disability Services which apparently has 80 locations, some of which are located in Albany and Queensbury, but the full list can be found here at their website. According to their mission statement, their goal is to “enable and empower people, primarily those with disabilities, to lead healthy and enriched lives”. Everyone deserves to live a healthy and enriched life, including diverse patients, so I think this is a great mission statement! On their website, I found that they have a variety of resource links for specific disabilities including Autism, Aspberger’s, and a section for developmental disabilities in general, all of which can be found here. I also found a website for New York called Living Resources which provides a variety of programs for “individuals challenged by intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as those who are brain injury survivors” and those programs are listed here under the tab Programs and Services. One of the programs that stood out the most to me was the Community Living Program, which in itself offers smaller programs for housing, supportive living, and family support services. Finally, I found multiple resources listed on the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities website including employment assistance, day services, and help with housing including group home placement or assistance in an individual’s own home. Ultimately there are definitely resources for patients who have intellectual and or developmental disabilities in our community, but I definitely think that there could be more advertising of these resources so that the people who need them can easily access them! 

 

Cost as an Access Factor

 I will be the first to admit that Clifton Park, NY is not the most diverse place around. As seen by our demographic statistics from the first blog post, it is a primarily white upper/middle-class community. However, this means that anyone that falls outside of that narrow category is technically considered diverse. With that in mind, a major factor affecting access for diverse populations in my community is the ability to afford health care and health-related resources. Some resources are available for people who cannot afford things like food, a safe place to live, and medical care. If someone is struggling to afford food, they can go to one of the many local food pantries including the CAPTAIN emergency food pantry called Karyl’s Kupboard, the Trinity Baptist Church Food Pantry, the Villa Fusco Food Pantry, and more which can be found here. If someone is struggling to afford a home or has been evicted from their home, CAPTAIN also offers a program where they will provide financial assistance to people facing homelessness. As a side note, on their website, I saw that they have a program where they will provide bikes to people in Saratoga County as a means of transportation, recreation, and encouraging an overall healthy lifestyle which I was super excited to see because it shows how something as simple as a bike can overcome a handful of health access barriers (1)! And finally, if someone is struggling to access medical care due to cost, there are a few options for reduced-cost care (I mentioned them in the last post, but I will reiterate) including the Capital City Rescue Mission Free Medical Clinic in Albany, the Schenectady Family Health Center, and the Troy Health Center (2). Also, If someone needs dental care but doesn’t have dental insurance, they can go to a low to no-cost dental clinic such as Schenectady Family Health Services which is based on “sliding scale fees”, the Saratoga Springs Community Health Center Dental Clinic, or the Whitney Young Albany Dental Center which also has a sliding fee scale based on income and family size (3). Overall, I think my community has a lot of resources to help people who might be struggling, which I think is especially important since it is a rather wealthy community– we are only as healthy as our unhealthiest citizen. I think that everyone deserves an equal opportunity to live a healthy life regardless of background and it is our responsibility as a community to make sure everyone can reasonably access the necessary resources to obtain such a lifestyle. 

Paying for Pet Care 

As always my mind comes back to this exact scenario but for pets. Luckily there are resources available if someone is in a situation where they can’t afford to care for their pet. First of all, if the situation is really dire and the owner simply cannot afford their pet anymore they can bring it to one of our local animal shelters: The Mohawk Hudson Humane Society, The Saratoga County Animal Shelter, Animal Protective Foundation. However, there are alternatives to this that can be found here. Within this site, there were specific resources by state and I found out that New York has a pet food pantry that is rather close to where I live: The Hudson Valley Pet Food Pantry. Additionally, I know that the shelter that I volunteer at, The Mohawk Hudson Humane Society, has their own pet food pantry, too, so that is another great resource for people struggling to pay for pet food. Finally, if someone is struggling to pay for veterinary care, I found a website that can be found here that gives some payment suggestions including one that caught my attention called Care Credit, a credit card specifically for health care expenses, including for pets.

 

 

  

 Sources: 

  1. https://captaincares.org/get-help/food-housing-assistance.html
  2. https://www.freeclinics.com/cit/ny-clifton_park
  3. https://www.freedentalcare.us/ci/ny-clifton_park

 Pictures: 

https://ftalphaville.ft.com/2020/02/26/1582705518000/Helicopter-money-is-here/ https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcostore/c/pet-food

https://www.thementornetwork.com/who-we-serve/adults-with-intellectual-and-developmental-disabilities/

 

Health Care Available in Our Community

Local Health Care Providers for People and Their Pets

We have many local health care providers in my community including Ellis Medicine, Albany Med EmUrgentCare, and several larger hospitals relatively close including St. Peter’s Hospital, Ellis Hospital, and Albany Medical Center. It is important to note that everyone has different circumstances, and if anyone is struggling to pay for health care we have local places that offer free or income-based medical help such as Capital City Rescue Mission Free Medical Clinic in Albany, the Schenectady Family Health Center, and the Troy Health Center but a bigger list can be found here. With an abundance of pet owners in my town, it is not surprising that we have numerous veterinary hospitals and clinics. Some options are Cornerstone Veterinary Hospital, Clifton Park Veterinary Clinic, Halfmoon Veterinary Hospital, and of course where I take my own dog, Burnt Hills Veterinary Hospital. 

 

What Does Veterinary Care Look Like During the Pandemic? 

I have actually seen first hand how at least our vet has adjusted to the coronavirus via drive-thru appointments so I thought it would be good to share that here! We had to bring my dog to the vet the other day to get something looked at to make sure it wasn’t anything serious (I won’t keep you waiting, it was nothing bad, thank goodness). When my mom and I pulled in to the parking lot we were signaled to pull up outside of the main entrance; once there we were greeted by a receptionist who confirmed our appointment and told us to pull into parking space number 2. After we parked, we waited for a few minutes just as you normally would in a waiting room. After a few minutes, a veterinary technician came out to our car, outfitted with a mask, and took our dog with her into the building so that she could get the necessary care for the next 20 minutes or so. Once her appointment was over, the vet tech returned with my dog and we scooped her back into the car. We waited a few more minutes and then my mom got a call from the veterinarian explaining the diagnosis and recommended treatment. Finally, we received another call from a receptionist who gave the specifics of the medications that she needed and my mom was able to pay for them over the phone. The receptionist then brought out the medications and we were on our way! It was incredibly efficient and it was clear that every possible precaution was being taken. If your pet needs medical attention at any point during this pandemic, I hope that this information is comforting and will encourage you to get your pet the care that they need!

However, I also understand that some people might not have equal access to a car, and therefore getting their pet to the vet is hard enough on a good day. With that in mind, I have a suggestion that might be helpful under normal circumstances: Uber! According to Uber Help, you should just give a heads up to the driver that you are bringing a pet with you, and more information about this can be found here. However, since we are all trying to social distance, I don’t think that Ubering is a good idea right now; with that being said, I don’t have a real solution to offer for transportation during this pandemic. I am curious, can anyone else can think of a way our community could help owners to overcome this barrier while accounting for current health and safety regulations?

Photos:

http://www.ellismedicine.org/clifton-park/default.aspx

https://www.theitem.com/stories/my-visit-to-the-vet-in-sumter-a-covid-19-new-normal,343828

External Factors Affecting Health in My Community

Demographic of Clifton Park, NY

The community I will be focusing on is Clifton Park, NY, and the surrounding areas (when applicable). The racial makeup of Clifton Park is 89.2% white, 1.8% African American, 4.5% Asian,  2.7% Hispanic, 1.5% two or more races, and 0.2% other. Our town has a median household income of $116,802 compared to the state median income of $64,894 which means that our demographic is mostly middle to upper-class.  We have a  median age of 42.1 years old (1). 

This outlines the general statistics of my community’s population, but it is important to note that not everyone falls in these median values and it is important to consider the extremes of these categories as well. For example, while the median age is 42.1 years old, around 24% of our population is 60 or older. This is a concern right now with COVID-19 since the virus is particularly dangerous for older people. 

As the frequent need for dog walkers, pet sitters, and the presence of multiple local veterinary facilities would indicate, my community is also full of pet owners. What people often forget is that as much as we humans are at the mercy of this pandemic, our pets are still reliant on us to give them the best possible care. This will be important to remember throughout the blog, but for now, I just want to draw attention to the fact that there could be at-risk elderly pet owners who are struggling right now since it would be pretty dangerous if they had to go out and buy pet food or take a pet to the vet. I will come back to this idea at a later point in the blog. Besides genetics and demographics, there are other factors that influence the overall health of a community. Some of these factors include access to safe environments to exercise and access to healthy food. 

Access to Safe Outdoor/Exercise Environments (for people and their pets)

Fortunately, there are many local public parks and trails where people can walk, play, and get exercise; some of these are Clifton Common, Kinns Road Park, Mary Jane Row Dog Park (for our 4-legged friends!) and many more which can be found here. There are also some other walking trails and parks just a short drive out of Clifton Park including the Zim Smith Trail, The Crossings Park of Colonie, and a variety of hiking trails a little further north toward the Adirondacks (these would require a longer drive, but worth it!). Note that with the current pandemic it is important that if you go to any public place including parks such as these you should definitely be social distancing! Clifton Park also has a wide variety of recreational sports for kids and numerous gyms where people can buy memberships (this, of course, is not viable right now). 

 

Access to Healthy Food

The final factor I would like to focus on is access to healthy food. If people are looking to get food, in general, we have multiple large grocery stores including Market 32 and Hannaford. However, if the focus is organic produce, there are many places to find it including DeVoe’s Rainbow Orchards, the Troy Summer Farmer’s Market, and the Clifton Park Farmers’ Market (2). Some farmer’s markets have already started to adapt to COVID-19, for example, the Schenectady Greenmarket has made some changes that are outlined here including requiring face masks (and forcing people to leave if they refuse), abiding by social distancing, and delineating vendors with chalk outlines. While even they admit, “It’s not going to look like the market that everyone is used to,” it is a great resource for people to get healthy food and support local farms and food producers. 

I would say Clifton Park has a lot of good resources to help people stay healthy in general. Based on this, I am hopeful that there will be support as we battle COVID-19 as a community. 

 

Sources

(1) http://www.city-data.com/city/Clifton-Park-New-York.html

(2) https://www.cliftonpark.com/shopping/farmers-markets/

Photos:

https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Clifton-Park-s-population-growth-dips-slight-11200864.php

https://www.cliftonpark.com/parks/recreation/