This summer I am lucky to have the opportunity to work as an intern for the Chenango United Way through the Upstate Institute Summer Field School. The United Way is a global nonprofit organization that works to strengthen communities in three areas: health, income, and education. The United Way in Norwich serves townships in Chenango County, fundraising and then reallocating donations to the most robust local nonprofits and programs. The United Way is unusual in that it does not serve one specific population or problem. Instead, the organization focuses on entire communities and addresses the ever-changing issues that a town or village may face within the three focus areas. Although it is most known for its work in fundraising, the United Way also helps organize community efforts to tackle big problems. By developing community impact teams for health, education and income, the United Way unifies the talent of community leaders to discuss and address area-specific issues. The United Way also works with other community groups, such as the Building a Healthy Community Coalition and the Housing Counsel Coalition, to work on issues like high rates of obesity, widespread substance abuse, persistent homelessness and insufficient affordable housing options. Rather than just giving money to different worthy causes, the United Way is an active participant in every step in long process of community improvement.
As a Fellow with the Upstate Institute Field School this summer, I have had the opportunity to work with Hudson Headwaters Health Network on a number of community health initiatives addressing ongoing public health issues within the local community. Hudson Headwaters is a not-for-profit community healthcare system, comprised of 17 community health centers covering more than 5,000 square miles of the Adirondack North Country and Glens Falls region. For many communities in the region, Hudson Headwaters is the only medical provider serving this rural, medically underserved area, making it an important “safety-net” provider for the region. The founding mission of Hudson Headwaters is “to provide the best health care, and access to that care, for everyone in our communities.” In pursuit of this mission, Hudson Headwaters has continued to be a leader in rural healthcare systems, working with community partners to develop innovative public health programs that increase access to quality healthcare and meet the evolving needs of the local community. I have had the opportunity to work on a couple of these projects, focusing on expanding access to treatment, continuing community outreach and education, and developing relationships with community partners.
Through the Upstate Institute Summer Field School, this summer, I have had the privilege of working as a Fellow at Chenango County’s Hospice & Palliative Care in the Norwich region. Hospice of Chenango County is a relatively small non-profit healthcare organization that specializes in end of life care. Their mission is to provide the highest quality end of life care by partnering with patients, families, and the community. In doing so, Hospice strives to provide pain and symptom control, and give emotional and social support to all their patients and loved ones. Hospice of Chenango County provides three service lines to their residents in the Chenango County: hospice care, to those living in their homes or a contracted skilled nursing facility; palliative care through a collaboration with At Home Care; and Complimentary Grief Services to residents of Chenango County.
Nicole Jackson is completing a Field School project this summer with the Hamilton-based Chenango Nursery School. She is helping the school to improve their data systems by implementing a new database, and by observing the school routines and needs to create reports that will help the teachers access the information they need at different times in the day. The nursery school is a non-profit parent cooperative early childhood program that operates through a mission of encouraging children to learn through play. To Nicole, that mission is evident in the school’s everyday activities, and she’s thoroughly enjoying helping the school to implement that mission, as described in her own words:
The research on New York State’s opioid crisis, conducted by faculty and students at Colgate in collaboration with the Bassett Research Institute in Cooperstown, will be published in the journal “Drug and Alcohol Dependence.” This article looks at the research on prescribing patterns and opioid overdose morbidity in New York from 2010 through the second quarter of 2016, before mandatory use of the state’s controlled substances database began in August 2013. The research project looked at morbidity (complications and health effects) from overdoses, not mortality, because the numbers are much bigger.
The Upstate Institute has extended the deadline for applications for the 2017 Summer Field School from Colgate students. Students now have until Friday, March 24 to submit an application for this summer’s fellowships. Applications are available here, along with a list of the projects that will be funded this summer.
Written by Holly Mascolo ’17
Growing up in a suburban community on Long Island, I never had to think twice about grocery shopping. I would wake up to a refrigerator full of fresh vegetables, meat, and milk. If we ever needed any more food, or to pick up something quickly, my parents would drive less than five minutes away to one of the three grocery stores within a five-minute drive from our house. I never stopped to consider a scenario different from this or to think about how fortunate I really was.
The first time I heard the phrase “food security” was my sophomore year at Colgate. Lots of communities– and in particular, low-income communities– lack access to fresh grocery items in their area. This often leaves individuals with no choice but to shop at nearby convenience stores for the quick items that they need, or to travel far distances out of their communities to shop. However, leaving the immediate area is not always a viable option for individuals, especially the elderly or those who do not have access to a car or other means of transportation. These communities where individuals lack access to fresh food and a variety of groceries are thus considered food insecure. According to the USDA (2015), food deserts are typically defined as communities that are low-income and have low-access to fresh foods, normally located one mile away from a supermarket in urban areas and ten miles in rural areas. ¹ Living in a food secure area my entire life left me fairly oblivious to this issue until I began to learn about it in my environmental studies classes at Colgate.
The issue of food insecurity can be found right in Madison County. In May of last year, the only grocery store in Morrisville closed its doors, leaving residents in the area to travel seven or more miles to the nearest grocery store in Hamilton, or further to other neighboring grocery stores. While Morrisville is not technically considered a food desert, this lack of a grocery store is seen as a problem within the community. It is especially a challenge for individuals who lack access to transportation, which means mainly the elderly, students at the nearby college, or those who struggle to travel far in the winter weather. There is a certain irony to the fact that Morrisville is nearly classified as a food desert, as there are so many farms in the local area and so many opportunities for fresh food to be purchased during the growing season in Upstate NY. However, without the retail infrastructure in place to bring food to individuals in Morrisville, it is difficult for people to access the foods that they need to lead a healthy lifestyle without leaving the community. Read more
Written by Erin Burke, ’18
When you walk into a museum, the exhibits are neatly finished, cleanly executed, and seem almost timeless. The narrative presented to you speaks with the authority of fact. Blockaded behind glass cases and signs that say, “Please do not touch,” the artifacts take on a certain mysticism that often accompanies things that are “forbidden.” So how do those objects get there? Who chooses them? This summer, Erin Burke ’18 got to explore what happens behind-the-scenes at the Oneida County Historical Society. Read more
Contributed by Jeffrey Marr, ’18
This summer I had the opportunity to work as an intern with Hudson Headwaters Health Network through the Upstate Institute’s Field School. Hudson Headwaters is a large non-profit health network in the Adirondack region that covers an area of around 5,000 square miles and serves a population of around 80,000 people. Hudson Headwaters provides comprehensive and coordinated healthcare services to this population including primary care, urgent care and specialty services. In doing so, it seeks to provide each person with access to quality preventative care to ensure that they, and the population as a whole, are as healthy as possible. Hudson Headwaters serves a rural area that is at risk of being under-served by the healthcare system. While Hudson Headwaters serves a heterogeneous patient population, many of its patients are low-income and are at risk of falling through the cracks. To combat this, Hudson Headwaters provides millions of dollars worth of uncompensated care and pharmacy discounts every year. Read more
Contributed by Ashlea Raemer ’18
Madison County is home to one of the strongest agricultural communities in New York with agriculture being the base of the county’s economy. In 2005 this community created the Madison County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan that cited four main goals, one of which was agriculture economic development. This led to the creation of the Agriculture Economic Development (AED) program in 2006 when the county funded the AED specialist position, housed out of Madison County Cornell Cooperative Extension, and created the Agriculture Advisory Committee to serve as directors for the AED program. The AED program focuses on marketing Madison County agriculture, assisting farmers, and attracting new farmers to the area.