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NYAM Launches Initiative to Help NYC Support Older Adults During Disasters
New York - The New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) has received $185,000 from The New York Community Trust and $100,000 from Altman Foundation to launch an initiative to create improved supports for New York’s community-dwelling older adults before, during, and after disasters and other mass, long-term events, like power outages and heat waves. During Hurricane Sandy, thousands of older adults were isolated in dark, unheated apartments without sufficient food, running water, or medical assistance; 24 of the 43 reported deaths in NYC were people over age 60. Many of the deaths and much of the suffering that occurred may have been prevented if adequate community-based supports had been in place.
To foster the creation of improved community-based response networks in New York City, the project will identify best practices, generate recommendations, and mobilize key partners to implement improved response plans that include:
• Effective risk communication for community-dwelling older adults and disabled individuals who are not in care facilities. It will address the specific challenges faced by this population as they weigh shelter-in-place and evacuation orders, including linguistic barriers, limited resources, isolation, vision and mobility impairments, and barriers to comprehension;
• Timely deployment of resources for individuals who are known to need attention and assistance during power outages (such as those with assistive medical devices and limited mobility);
• Timely identification and deployment of resources for individuals unconnected to social service and health care providers (such as otherwise independent people who become isolated, injured, or otherwise vulnerable due to the event or post-event conditions);
• Multi-sector and multi-agency coordination of volunteers and services for older adults before, during, and after emergency events.
The project will particularly address the resources available through non-governmental organizations and civic groups not typically activated in disaster preparedness and response, such as businesses, property management companies and landlords, and tenant and civic associations, as well as health and social service organizations. This broad community is playing an important role in helping older adults recover from Hurricane Sandy and could be better aligned in partnership with one another and with City agencies to develop an effective emergency response network that meets the needs of older adults.
Building on the successful model of NYAM’s Age-friendly NYC partnership with the Mayor’s Office and New York City Council, the project’s action steps will include:
• Convening an Older Adults & Disasters Working Group that will include private sector entities and government agencies, and will engage older adults, community and faith organizations, and business groups;
• Engaging in primary research in five communities deeply affected by Hurricane Sandy by gathering information from older adults who survived the experience and community agencies participating in the recovery effort;
• Generating a review of existing literature and obtaining advice from leading experts in disaster response;
• Hosting events that facilitate cross-sector discussions and generate recommendations for improvement
• Issuing a report in early 2014 with recommendations for public agencies as well as private sector groups
“This effort will increase awareness of the specific challenges older adults face during emergencies and also make visible the many assets available in the community to address these challenges,” said Ruth Finkelstein, ScD, NYAM Senior Vice President for Policy and Planning. “This awareness, coupled with the specific recommendations in the report, will generate emergency response plans that truly serve the needs of older New Yorkers.”
For more information about the project, visit the project website at http://www.nyam.org/disaster-preparedness
About The New York Academy of Medicine
The New York Academy of Medicine advances the health of people in cities.
An independent organization since 1847, NYAM addresses the health challenges facing the world’s urban populations through interdisciplinary approaches to policy leadership, innovative research, evaluation, education, and community engagement. Drawing on the expertise of diverse partners worldwide and more than 2,000 elected Fellows from across the professions, our current priorities are to create environments in cities that support healthy aging; to strengthen systems that prevent disease and promote the public’s health; and to eliminate health disparities.
About The New York Community Trust
Through the generosity of New Yorkers past and present, The New York Community Trust makes grants for a range of charitable activity so important to the well-being and vitality of our city. We’ve helped make donors' charitable dreams come true since 1924. We ended 2012 with assets of $2.1 billion in 2,000 charitable funds, and made grants totaling $137 million. Grants made from these funds meet the changing needs of children, youth, and families; aid in community development; improve the environment; promote health; assist people with special needs; and support education, arts, and human justice. In addition to making grants to a broad range of nonprofit agencies, The Trust responds to urgent problems in the City by bringing people together, working with other funders, and issuing publications to help illuminate issues and explore their solutions. The Trust is governed by a 12-member Distribution Committee composed of community leaders appointed by a variety of civic institutions. Its staff is recognized for its experience in grantmaking, financial administration, and donor service. Divisions are located on Long Island and in Westchester.
About Altman Foundation
Founded in 1913, the mission of the Altman Foundation is to support programs and institutions that enrich the quality of life in New York City, with a particular focus on initiatives that help individuals, families, and communities benefit from the services and opportunities that will enable them to achieve their full potential. In keeping with the interests of our founder, Benjamin Altman, we focus our philanthropy in four central areas: Education, Health, Strengthening Communities, and Arts and Culture while supporting the strength of the City’s nonprofit sector and focusing particularly on the City’s most vulnerable populations.
Reporters: to arrange interviews with NYAM medical and urban health experts, contact
Andrew J. Martin, Director of Communications
212-822-7285 / firstname.lastname@example.org
This report identifies opportunities that build on both the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) and New York’s ongoing efforts toward improving the health of its 19 million residents.
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