Study Finds Region’s No. 1 Health Concern is Poverty

Across the region’s urban, rural and suburban communities, the top health concern is poverty. It drives health inequities that undermine wellness and cut lives short more than any other single cause of illness, according to an extensive new report by Common Ground Health, the health research and planning organization for the Rochester-Finger Lakes region.

Overloaded: The Heavy Toll of Poverty on Our Region’s Health aims to close that gap. The report connects the dots between life lived on the financial edge and appalling health inequities – unfair and avoidable sickness and death linked to income, race and other factors. It weaves together health data, personal stories and analysis of more than 6,800 responses to Common Ground’s My Health Story survey conducted in 2018.

The research shows that the conditions and stresses of poverty compromise the physical and emotional wellbeing of residents every day, from exposure to mold, lead and other toxins common in substandard housing to the psychological strain of trying to make ends meet. The study found that by nearly every metric, residents of the Finger Lakes with scarce financial resources experience alarmingly worse health outcomes.
The report’s findings include:

  • The estimated cost of health inequity exceeds $1 billion annually for our region.
  • More years of life are lost to health inequity than all forms of cancer combined.
  • Residents of high poverty neighborhoods die eight years earlier on average than residents of low poverty neighborhoods.
  • Compared to residents with household incomes over $75,000, those with incomes under $20,000 are 105% more likely to lose their teeth, 154% more likely to have diabetes, and 224% more likely to be diagnosed with depression.

For our behavioral health customers who we work with at CCSI, this report helps to illustrate the toll that the toxic stress of poverty takes on the mental and physical health of those you serve.  With 80% of health outcomes impacted by Social Determinants of Health (SDoH), poverty is the ultimate SDoH as it negatively affects them all.  You likely see everyday how clients are less successful with treatment when they are struggling with important SDoH like food, housing, and employment.  Therefore, we must be understanding of and constantly address the ways that poverty undermines health and well-being in order to see better, more equitable health outcomes among those we support. 

The report concludes that investing in interventions to address the root causes of health inequities is imperative. In addition, it notes that the region has a proud history of public health success and an unusually strong tradition of collaboration across the health care ecosystem.  Building on this legacy, and with its new report guiding the discussion, Common Ground calls for collaboration across geographies, sectors, backgrounds and perspectives to challenge the tangle of structural inequities that currently lead to poor health.

Click here to read and download the full report.  


Monroe County Office of Mental Health Offers Free SafeTALK Suicide Awareness Training 

SafeTALK is a half-day alertness training that prepares anyone 15 or older, regardless of prior experience or training, to become a suicide-alert helper. The training can help to prepare someone to begin recognizing thoughts of suicide in others, having a safe conversation about these thoughts, and connecting the individual to support to further assist them in remaining safe.  Click here for more details about the training.  Please contact Brianna Morabito or Miranda DelVecchio to schedule a time.

Addressing the Opioid Crisis in Monroe County

Thank you to David Putney, Director of Monroe County Office of Mental Health and Jason Teller, Substance Use Services Planning and Implementation Specialist for Monroe County Office of Mental Health for your presentation on 12/1 Addressing the Opioid Crisis in Monroe County. David and Jason provided an overview of the opioid crisis in our community, including what the County’s strategy includes to better address this community need.  They gave recommendations for what we can all do, as well as lists of resources. Resource links are provided below.

Click here to view their PowerPoint Addressing the Opioid Crisis in Monroe County

Monroe County Opioid Task Force Brochure

Monroe County OASAS Certified Treatment Providers

List of Recovery Services in Monroe County


Hard Facts, Race and Poverty in the Nine County Greater Rochester Region

CCSI Rochester-based staff and the Board of Directors had the opportunity to participate in a presentation and thought-provoking discussion of the report “Hard Facts, Race and Poverty in the Nine County Greater Rochester Region” led by Ed Doherty, the principal author and researcher. This report is the 3rd in a series of reports released by ACT Rochester that speak to poverty in the region.

The findings in “Hard Facts” detail the harsh reality of the extent of poverty in Rochester (particularly eye-opening as compared to comparably sized cities) as well as the gaps between racial and ethnic groups on poverty-related, educational and other well-being indicators. Not only are there disparities between racial and ethnic groups in the Rochester area itself, but Rochester African American and Latino populations have less favorable rates on key indicators than African American and Latino populations in NYS as a whole and in the US.

Our discussion and questions were primarily – Why is this so? How did we get here? and What can we do to change this? We know there are no immediate solutions to this complex and pervasive issue in our community. But we all came away from the discussion with an awareness of these startling facts, the extent of disparities in our community, the urgency of the situation and some implications for our work moving forward. Many community efforts are now being focused on poverty, especially those under the Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative. Along with working in partnership with initiatives, now that we all have the “hard facts” on poverty AND disparities, we need to pay close attention in our programs and contracted services and work with others to using a cultural lens as we move towards solutions so as not to inadvertently perpetuate the disparities.  

Click here to access the Act Rochester reports: