As far as access to health care goes there are obstacles that stand in the way of Schenectady residents. These obstacles can be broken down into physical, linguistic, and financial obstacles. In terms of the Schenectady community, physical access primarily consists of location of health care facilities and transportation challenges. Ellis hospital is the primary hospital for the community, it’s a “general medical and surgical facility” located downtown, and also provides outpatient services at McClean Street Health Center and inpatient services at Bellevue Women’s Center (Ellis Hospital). There are bus routes that can take patients to stops near the hospital (and are handicap accessible), and Uber is accessible around the city as well. The hospital also provides a free shuttle service with regular stops at six locations around the community. With current times, most health care providers are using Telehealth to communicate with patients. 77.2% of households in Schenectady have access to internet, so this provides a challenge for ~ 23% of residents. Schenectady is a culturally diverse community, so another obstacle is communication, if the provider is not able to understand the patient’s symptoms due to a language barrier, they will not be able to provide proper care. To accommodate patients’ needs, Ellis Hospital provides interpreter services via video remote systems. There can also be disconnects that can occur between patients and their providers regarding diagnoses and severity of diagnoses, so interpreters that are able to understand the patient’s cultural background are very important. With 17.2% of the community in poverty, some residents may be hesitant to get care because of the sheer expense. Ellis Hospital offers financial assistance to patients, “If qualified and approved, Financial Assistance reduces your Ellis Hospital bill. How much it is reduced is based on established guidelines that include: income level, existing debts, medical situation, and other indicators of inability to pay…” (Ellis Hospital). Even if the patient has insurance it can still be difficult to pay copays, for transportation to appointments or child care while at appointments if applicable. According to the U.S. census, 21.9% of Schenectady residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher; this can make higher paying jobs less accessible and therefore limit income possibilities for many residents. To remedy this, Hometown Health Centers clinic was created. Their mission states Hometown Health Centers “helps people live healthier lives by improving health outcomes and health equity through quality primary care and preventative services. Anyone seeking care, regardless of income, will be helped and treated with respect by people who are mindful of cultural uniqueness and dedicated to continuous improvement” (Hometown Health Centers). They provide a sliding fee discount program to those who are unable to afford services. As summarized above, although residents do face obstacles in accessing health care, there are resources that help to alleviate some of the barriers for the community.
U.S. Census: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/schenectadycitynewyork
Health clinic: https://www.hometownhealthcenters.org/