Whenever asked about my hometown (Guilderland, New York), I like to consider it as one of Albany’s hidden gems. No doubt, like any other area, it possesses both its strengths and weaknesses. Yet, when examining it through a broad lens, it shines in several departments. In particular, I want to delve into Guilderland’s population’s overall health, dissect the socioeconomic factors that influence the general health, and, lastly, analyze the Guilderland community in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.
Socioeconomic Determinants of Health Statistics
As of 2019, Guilderland has a total population of 35,723 people. Regarding racial/ethnic demographic data, the community can be classified as 82% white, 9% Asian, 3% black, 3% Hispanic, and 2% of two or more of any of these (mixed). In terms of economics, the large concentration of predominantly middle-class inhabitants may account for the reduced health disparities in Guilderland. Furthermore, the median age of Guilderland is approximately 40.5 years, 63% of the population falls into the age range of 18-64, and the community has an equal number of males and females. Shifting to educational backgrounds, 97.3% of the population has graduated from high school, and 52.9% has achieved a bachelor’s degree or higher. These factors positively contribute to general health because of their rippling effects on every aspect of life. For example, higher education levels can determine one’s future career, income, and, consequently, the quality of life. With more income and stability, there is greater access to healthy foods, gyms/fitness facilities, good healthcare services, and improved mental health due to fewer stressors. Therefore, the fact that more than half of Guilderland’s inhabitants have completed undergraduate education and possibly gone beyond can speak volumes — to a great degree — about their wellbeing. Additionally, the total percentage of persons in poverty is at 4.4%, and the percentage of persons without health insurance under the age of 65 is 3.3%. The possession of health insurance in the United States is crucial in one’s ability to access healthcare. Without insurance, patients are left to carry the burden of the enormous medical expenses, which is, unfortunately, neither a feasible or pragmatic option. Thus, the combination of the low percentage values pertinent to poverty and health insurance is ideal and indicative that the majority of the public has sufficient access to standard healthcare.
With the backdrop of COVID-19, available technology, and a stable Internet connection at home have become vital in work-life, socialization, mental health, and telehealth! It is important to note that 91.3 % of households in Guilderland have a working computer, and 86.5 % of households have high-speed Internet subscriptions. Together, these two “tools” allow the general public to remain connected with friends/family, to stay informed about the virus updates, and to receive healthcare advice from qualified medical professionals via phone or computer. Initially, in the first few precarious months of the pandemic (April and May 2020), the number of positive cases was relatively high, peaking at around 70-75. There was a decline in June cases, increasing again around July and staying on the lower end (about 15 positive cases) throughout September. For that brief period in September, there was a sense of collective peace in the community. However, as we journey through October, the daily positive cases have been hanging around 30-35, which can be unsettling for some. Still, despite the challenges and harsh realities that COVID-19 has brought forth, the Albany County Department of Health’s strong guidance has been helpful. With its list of support resources and emphasized health guidelines (wearing a mask, socially distanced at all times in public, etc.), it has allowed the Guilderland community to continue growing and to remain resilient.
Guilderland Town Hall Photo Attribution:
By Linda Cure – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23270623