Socioeconomic Determinants of Health in Schenectady
The focus of this post will be to outline important determinants of health specific to Schenectady, New York.
Roughly 23% of the population in New York State’s capital region were at or below the Federal Poverty Line according to the Health Equity Report procured by the Healthy Capital District Initiative. Low socioeconomic status can lead to decreased health access; more specifically, those who have low income more than likely will encounter greater difficulties when seeking to make decisions with regard to their health. For instance, it is difficult to find affordable healthy food, it is difficult to see a doctor if you cannot afford the visit, it is difficult to find a safe and stable home for long periods of time.
Moreover, the aforementioned report outlined many of the social determinants of health in the capital region. This Health Equity Report focused specifically on factors having to do with access to food and housing as these are two large indicators of health. There were high percentages of people in the area that had limited access to these two factors. 22.9% of the population in Schenectady were low income residents with low healthy food access, 13.3% qualified for SNAP food stamps, and 47% of Schenectady’s school children were eligible for free or reduced lunch – all of which were highest in the capital region. Moreover, Schenectady had an 1.44% overcrowding rate, Schenectady was dubbed a high-risk cost burdened neighborhood- meaning that residents were spending 30% or more of their income on housing. Lastly, older houses built prior to 1960, with lead in the paint and plumbing systems put residents at risk for lead exposure. 33.9% of homes in Schenectady were built before 1960.
Additionally, according to New York State health records Schenectady counties obesity rate, adult smoking rate, adult asthma prevalence rate, diabetes mortality rate, and heart attack hospitalization rate were all higher than New York State rates. This evidence coupled with the aforesaid data suggest that low socioeconomic status, leading to limited access to healthy food and safe, stable housing may influence the overall health of the community.
Due to COVID-19 Hometown Health Center has taken the initiative to provide house calls to residents who are unable to access a computer. An article written by the Daily Gazette noted that most of the residents utilizing this option were of Schenectady. Moreover, at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in March the Schenectady County Manager Rory Fluman said that a question people were coming to him with was, “how am I going to get my food stamps?” These statements both underline the limited access in this community, which seems to be heightened due to the COVID-19 outbreak.