News and Events
Why mobility is a foundation of Rural Health:
The term mobility is defined as “the ability to move or be moved freely and easily” (source: English Oxford Living Dictionaries). Most are familiar with the term “upward mobility” often used to describe the process of improving an individual or family’s economic status. The word mobility is also used in the context of describing an individual’s physical movement challenges or limitations. More recently, the transportation sector has introduced the concept of “mobility management” to describe an array of services and strategies that consider the unique transportation (mobility) needs of individuals. This individualized approach can inform and drive improvements in service at both the individual and systems levels as transportation gaps and duplication are factored into designing more responsive and efficient transportation solutions.
Why improving mobility “on the ground” is necessary to achieve better rural health outcomes:
Think of the array of trips that rural residents need to make to access employment or health care and to procure other essential goods and services. The extent to which these trips can be made in a safe, efficient, and affordable manner affects the extent to which rural residents can maximize health and wellness.
Considering the demographics of our region (aging, relatively low incomes, higher rates of chronic disease) and limited affordable transportation service options, there is a need to better address the mobility needs of many older, sicker, and/or lower income rural residents. Improved mobility and affordable transportation options help position rural residents for better health by improving access to healthy food, health care services, education, and social connections.
How addressing the second largest expense for most low income households can contribute to better health outcomes:
Transportation expenses are often the second highest expense to individuals and families after housing.  In some low income rural households, transportation can be the highest expense due to the cost of owning and maintaining a vehicle(s) and high operating expenses due to long distances travelling to employment, etc. So here are some ways that effectively addressing the high cost of transportation can have a positive impact on health:
· Providing an affordable, dependable transportation option for accessing employment can make it possible for a rural worker to travel to a better job and potentially a job with health insurance benefits. Increased income and benefits can have a positive impact on health and wellness.
· If the cost of transportation is reduced, income can be freed up for other expenses, including (healthy) food, clothing, household expenses, etc. Consider how reducing the need for two cars to one car in a household with two workers could significantly reduce expenses. This scenario is possible if there is public transportation, ride sharing, or a van-pool available.
Perhaps there is some irony here, but the high cost of mobility (transportation) can be a barrier to “upward mobility” for many rural residents. In order to move up, there needs to be access to education and employment opportunities that generally require dependable, affordable transportation. You could say that in order to move up one must first be able to move side to side…
How does Rural Health Network of SCNY (RHNSCNY) help improve the mobility of rural people and communities?:
Mobility Management of South Central New York (MMSCNY), a program of RHNSCNY, has been helping to address the transportation needs of individuals in our region since 2011. The point of entry for anyone in Broome, Chenango, Delaware, Otsego, and Tioga Counties, with a transportation need or question, is to call the GetThere Call Center at 1-855-373-4040, Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. MMSCNY can also be accessed by calling 211.
MMSCNY provides training to individuals or groups that want to learn how to use public transportation. MMSCNY can also assist those who need help with transportation and related expenses to health care appointments through the Connection to Care Program. Other projects in development include The Rural Mobility Project (van-pool services to employment) and the Transportation to Health Toolkit (includes a searchable database to quickly access information on transportation services available for your specific need). For more information call the GetThere Call Center call 1-855-373-4040 or access more information about MMSCNY at the Rural Health Network SCNY Website: http://www.rhnscny.org/programs/mmscny .
1. Federal Highway Administration. (Updated 2015). Transportation and housing costs. Retrieved from: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/livability/fact_sheets/transandhousing.cfm
Rural Health Week of Action
During Rural Health Week of Action, the Rural Health Network of SCNY is working with community partners to remind people that the NYSOH Marketplace is open for business! From now until January 31, NYS residents can visit https://nystateofhealth.ny.gov/ to shop for affordable, quality health coverage.
Here are a few facts every American who lives in a rural community should know about open enrollment, now through January 31, 2017.
Rural Americans have affordable coverage options on the Marketplace.
Nearly 9 in 10 rural Marketplace consumers will be able to get tax credits to help pay for a plan that works for them and their families. Even people who didn’t qualify for tax credits last year may qualify this year, especially if their income changed or if they live in places where premiums have risen.
As a result, 75 percent of rural Marketplace consumers will be able to find health coverage for less than $100 per month, after tax credits.
You and your family may be eligible for Medicaid (income at 138%) or the Essential Health Plan (200% above the Federal Poverty Level).
Rural Americans already covered through the Marketplace may save money by revisiting their options during Open Enrollment.
You have the right during open enrollment to shop for better plans, or a lower monthly premium. Returning rural customers could save an average of $47 per month, or $564 a year, by coming back to the Marketplace and purchasing the lowest premium plan in their metal level.
It’s easy to find and enroll in a plan.
Visit the tools on https://nystateofhealth.ny.gov/ to compare plans based on your preferred health care providers and prescription drugs. You can also compare plans by how much you think you’d spend over the course of next year, based on you and your family’s personal health care needs.
Call NYS Marketplace Help Line at 1-855-355-5777 or TTY 1-800-662-1220
Monday – Friday 8 am – 8 pm or Sat. 9 am – 1 pm
To find an in person assistor in your area, contact the Rural Health Network of SCNY at 607 692-7669, M-F, 8 am -4:30 pm.
Adapted from: http://www.hhs.gov/blog/2016/11/16/lets-get-rural-america-covered.html
Sound Rural Housing: A Condition for Safety and Health
Many years ago I learned some basics about rural housing from Richard L’Hommedieu, who, at the time, was Director of the Chenango County Planning Department. Richard was retired military and brought much of what he learned in his military career to his work at the Planning Department. He had a “can do” attitude and was focused on a strategy of making investments and improvements to address housing needs in Chenango County.
During the late eighties and early nineties, the Chenango County Planning Department accessed state and federal housing grants and initiated a mobile home replacement program, as well as programs to upgrade septic systems. I can remember Mr. L’Hommedieu explaining how each rural home requires its own infrastructure which makes rural housing, from construction to maintenance to renovation, an expensive proposition. While urban, and many village and suburban homes are connected to municipal water and sewer systems which share costs, rural homes generally require their own systems, resulting in significant initial and maintenance costs. When systems fail, replacement costs can be prohibitive for those on low or fixed incomes. If a well or septic system needs to be replaced, other home repairs and improvements may have to go by the wayside.
So how does this impact the health of rural homeowners? When you travel the countryside and see houses in disrepair, think beyond the peeling paint. Does the home have safe drinking water? Is there a septic system, and if yes, is it working properly? Is the wiring safe? Is there a heating system, and if so, is it safe? Are there carbon monoxide and smoke detectors? This is not an extensive list but does suggest some of the ways substandard rural homes can impact health and safety.
With the economic challenges of our region and a significant and growing number of older residents living on fixed incomes, the age, quality, and safety of our rural housing stock is both an individual and community concern. While code enforcement can be helpful, especially with new construction and renovation oversight, many rural homes have safety and potential health issues that remain unresolved.
The Rural Broome Counts (RBC) Housing Supplement published in July 2016 provides information on the state of housing in rural Broome County. Equally important, the RBC Housing Resource Guide for Rural Municipalities, also published in July 2016, provides information on local housing agencies, as well as New York State and Federal Housing programs that can help rural communities and homeowners with housing needs, including repairs, energy improvements, and funding for homeownership. I would encourage community leaders and local elected officials to consider how they can support housing needs in their community. An investment in rural housing services and programs is an investment in the health and safety of seniors and others who struggle to afford and maintain their homes. One final thought: There is an economic health benefit - a community with quality, safe, and affordable housing is a community people want to live and work in.
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
The Attorney General’s Charities Bureau is pleased to invite you to attend a Charities Symposium - "Doing Well While Doing Good” - which will include presentations on governance, accounting, legal and management issues concerning not-for-profit organizations. The symposium is part of the Charities Bureau’s educational program designed to assist not-for-profit organizations in New York so they may fulfill their missions effectively while complying with the legal mandates of this State.
Grants Will Support Community Programs Designed by 18 Non-Profit Organizations Across New York State
Can You Have Healthy Rural Individuals Without Viable Rural Communities?
“When you visit or drive through many of New York’s rural villages and small cities, the loss of Main Street retail and service businesses is painfully obvious. In some communities, the sight of abandoned brick buildings signals the loss of local schools through consolidation. The absence of doctor’s offices and grocery stores also indicates the extent to which a rural population center lacks critical services to support the health and well-being of residents, especially those who do not drive.” (Page 120, Rural Broome Counts Final Report).
The de-population and economic decline of rural places has been taking place since the industrial revolution and is a global phenomenon. With this in mind, the Viability Indicator section of the Rural Broome Counts Report was included to establish baseline information on the economic, social, and civic infrastructure of four rural Broome County village centers and their corresponding school districts and townships. Rural Health Network of South Central New York (RHNSCNY) will periodically revisit these communities and report on how the indicators are trending. We will be able to show both losses and gains and be in a better position to consider how what is happening at the community level impacts health and well-being.
For local governments, school districts, and organizations involved in improving the lives of rural community residents, having baseline information for each community and then periodic updates will be an opportunity to celebrate successes, identify threats (e.g., potential loss of a health facility or food store), and provide some of the information needed to advocate for the services and economic opportunities essential to rural viability and resiliency.
The seed for this idea of Rural Viability may have been first planted when I learned many years ago that the Kylätoiminta /Finnish Village Action movement had received a Right Livelihood Award. The Right Livelihood Award is often described as the alternative Nobel Prize. In response to rural de-population in Finland in the 1960s and 1970s, a system of Village Committees was originally initiated as a university research project. The Village Committees became a way for these small rural communities to work together to address the myriad of economic and social issues they were confronted with. The Right Livelihood Award website reports that there were about 4,000 Village Committees operating in Finland as of 2009. Similar rural village movements have been initiated throughout Europe.
“The Village Committees are an expression of small-scale collective action over individualism. Communal facilities are emphasized or restored, as are public and social services, such as health, postal or transport services. One academic wrote in 1986: "Although village activity has achieved much that is of positive value, its importance lies much deeper. In the long run its greatest importance is in the change in people's attitudes. The former passivity and submissivity have given way to a new vigour, self-reliance and community spirit and to better awareness of opportunities for activities and assistance” http://www.rightlivelihood.org/village-action.html .
The Viability Indicator project is a tangible way Rural Health Network of South Central New York can support the small rural communities of Broome County and the region. Organizing, presenting, and tracking viability indicators at the community level will contribute to better decision making, targeted advocacy, and, ideally, celebration as our rural communities strengthen and prosper.Jack Salo
Executive Director, RHNSCNY
National Drug Take Back Day
The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is free and aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.
Acceptable medication includes anything from aspirin to controlled substances. Needles and liquids will not be accepted.
Collections will be held at the following locations:
- Broome County Sheriff's Office - 155 Lt. VanWinkle Dr., Binghamton
- Southport Volunteer Fire Department, 1001 Carl St., Elmira
- Afton Town Hall - 204 County Road 39 in the Town of Afton
Population Health Update
On April 5th, the Southern Tier Health Action Priorities Network/ Population Health Improvement Program (HAPN/PHIP) presented the results of their five-county population health assessment to over 100 health and human services providers from across the region. The event was held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Binghamton, N.Y.
The assessment, which included results from 238 interviews and focus groups involving 130 community members, was conducted to develop a better understanding on how to improve health across the region. Those who participated in interviews and focus groups also identified priority population health issues and challenges. The assessment was conducted between June 2015 and February 2016 and included information collected for Broome, Chenango, Delaware, Tioga and Tompkins counties.
Rural Health Network’s Population Health Coordinators, Emily Hotchkiss and Mary Maruscak conducted interviews and focus groups in Broome, Delaware and Tioga Counties and were presenters at the HAPN/PHIP assessment presentation on April 5th.
After the presentation of analysis results, audience members joined breakout groups led by Population Health Coordinators and discussed the top priority health issues that arose from the analysis, including transportation, mental health, substance use, and provider & consumer education. Groups evaluated strengths and weaknesses of each, and then determined, via a voting process, which two priority areas would be the focus of the HAPN/PHIP initiative moving forward.
The results of all data analysis are available on the Healthlink NY website > Community Tab> HAPN Southern Tier > Program Resources. Additional resources and analyses, including county level data, will be made available in the same location in the coming weeks.
Audience members, including interviewed stakeholders and steering committee members, selected transportation and mental health as HAPN Southern Tier's priority areas. Further work is being done to determine which initiatives will be undertaken in each of those areas. We look forward to the next stage of work.
If you have any questions or want additional information, please feel free to contact Rural Health Network's Population Health Coordinators: Mary Maruscak firstname.lastname@example.org and Emily Hotchkiss email@example.com.
Rural Health Network of SCNY -- E-Newsletter: April 2016Population Health Update