By Greg Brenn
This past Saturday, U-Matter Schenectady kicked off its community-wide health campaign to better understand Schenectady’s healthcare needs. Though U-Matter has no affiliation with Union, Ellis Hospital, the main organization spearheading this campaign, has collaborated with over 30 community organizations to organize a community health assessment that will be formed through door-to-door surveys in neighborhoods of Schenectady County.
Beginning within the city limits of Schenectady, the goals of U-Matter are to decrease health disparities, the amount of preventable visits to the area’s hospitals and emergency rooms, and the mortality and morbidity of Schenectady residents from preventable health conditions.
Ellis Hospital CEO Jim Connolly explained where the idea of door-to-door surveys originated from. He said, “This inspiring and innovative idea has worked in other areas like Chicago, where childhood asthma and diabetes was identified as a major health issue in several neighborhoods, and it’s now being successfully addressed.”
There are 16 community health workers of Schenectady who will knock on doors for 12 weekends, administering these surveys. Debbie Schimpf, of the Schenectady Community Action Program, explains, “The survey will include questions about social and environmental factors that influence health, but most importantly the survey is localized and developed to identify health concerns and disparities existing in neighborhoods.”
Funded by a $100,000 grant from the Schenectady Foundation, the results from these surveys will be identified and prioritized in hopes to develop a deeper understanding of the unmet health needs and to do a better job of meeting those needs. For those students living off-campus, do not shut your blinds when someone wearing a U-Matter T-shirt knocks on your door, asking about your health. Not only do survey participants receive a Price-Chopper gift card, but the answers will serve an important role in making the Schenectady community a healthier place to live.