Center for Rural Community Health

Bassett’s Center for Rural Community Health addresses complex health issues challenging the small rural communities of Bassett’s eight county region. This region includes some of Appalachia’s northern-most counties. These and their neighboring counties contain many rural communities afflicted with similar demographic, economic and infrastructure challenges and having disproportionate numbers of citizens who are aged, impoverished, isolated, obese and otherwise challenged. Many aspects of health in the communities served by Bassett have been documented with a series of large surveys over the past 20 years. The most recent was the Upstate Health and Wellness Survey of 2009.

Aging Drivers:

The Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers (LongROAD) Study is a multi-site cohort study of factors that predict the ability of older adults to continue driving safely (and factors that preserve quality of life when older adults reduce or discontinue driving). The LongROAD Study is funded by the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety and supports the enrollment of 3000 65-79 year old adult drivers in five sites (Cooperstown; Baltimore MD; Denver CO; Ann Arbor MI; San Diego CA). The study’s lead institution is the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University, and other participating institutions besides the Bassett Research Institute are the Johns Hopkins University, the University of Colorado, the University of Michigan, the University of California at San Diego and the Urban Institute. Information to be collected on the 3000 study participants will include detailed measurements of physical and cognitive functioning; health conditions and medications; the condition and safety features of participants’ vehicles; and driving-related behaviors. Data will be collected from in-person interviews and examinations; medical and motor vehicle department records; and GPS measurements of driving patterns. In the first phase of the LongROAD Study the driving experience of these adults will be followed for the years 2015-2019.

Childhood Obesity:

Golding Block Party 012.JPG   The “5210 Every Day” Pilot Program attempts to reduce the risk of childhood obesity and improve health by promoting four daily goals: 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, not more than 2 hours of recreational screen time, at least 1 hour of physical activity and no sugar-sweetened beverages. This community-based initiative brings these messages to multiple sectors of the community: schools; before and after school programs; health care; work sites; and other community organizations. During 2013 and 2014 Research Institute staff worked with partners in 2 pilot communities, Delhi and Edmeston, to provide new resources or enhance existing programs and policies that support the 5210 behaviors. Examples include creating a new fresh produce market in the pilot community without a full-service grocery store; expanding school and community-based gardens; promoting physical activity through community events and newly established fitness trails and exercise programs; and actively supporting school policies to reduce consumption of sugar sweetened beverages and sports drinks. Periodic surveys of 5210 behaviors as reported by students and parents have been used to evaluate the impact of the pilot program. Lessons learned are being used to initiate this program in Morris and Cobleskill 2015 through 2017.   The Research Institute presented the 5210 community program for Delhi and Edmeston at the New York State Public Health Association's annual meeting and conference held at the Sagamore Resort in Bolton Landing on April 23rd & 24th, 2015. The slides from the presentation can be viewed here.

Rural Health Education:

A major component of the rural community effort is the Research Institute’s Rural Health Education Network of Schoharie, Otsego, Montgomery Counties (RHENSOM), funded by the New York State Office of Rural Health.  RHENSOM supports initiatives aimed at encouraging healthy nutrition and physical activity for adults and children, children's dental health, and training of adults in management of chronic disease.  RHENSOM uses a number of creative approaches in addressing these goals. Dental education is provided for all Pre-K to 3rd grade students in the region, Mileage Club integrates physical activity into the school day with over a thousand elementary school students walking and running to support better learning. Girls on the Run inspires girls to be healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.  Junior Iron Chef Competitions educate students about nutrition choices and food preparation skills. Chronic Disease & Diabetes Self Management programs are evidence-based workshops for adults that compliment clinician efforts to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

Cardiovascular Disease in Rural Women:

Strong Hearts, Healthy Communities (SHHC) is a NIH-funded project directed by Rebecca Seguin, PhD, at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology. The SHHC project targets at-risk women in medically underserved areas for cardiovascular disease prevention efforts.  This new community-based program uses education, strength training, aerobic exercise, and dietary intervention, as well as behavioral and civic engagement strategies to address risk in sedentary middle-age and older overweight rural women.  The Research Institute is overseeing this intervention in two central NY sites and collecting similar data at two control sites. These will be compared with a number of sites in rural Montana. Outcome measures will include changes in CVD-related anthropometric, physiologic, behavioral, and psychosocial parameters. Behavior and attitude change within each of the participants’ social networks will also be measured.

Creating Healthy Schools and Communities:April Sidney Salad Days - Lentil 008.JPG

Creating Healthy Schools and Communities (CHSC) is a five-year (2015-2020) public health initiative to reduce major risk factors of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases in these 5 high-need school districts and associated communities – Charlotte Valley, Walton, Sidney, Unatego and Richfield Springs. The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) awarded the grant to the Research Foundation for SUNY - SUNY Cobleskill, who are subcontracting with the Bassett Center for Rural Community Health to work in the schools on the following items:  review, evaluate and make recommendations on school wellness policies, reduce food marketing to students, improve the quality of foods available during the school day, improve access to physical activity before, during and after the school day.

Community efforts focus on the adoption of Complete Streets policies and implementing changes in roadways during planned construction to make communities more walkable and healthy.  Community strategies will also seek to improve access to healthy foods through local convenience stores and through working with organizations that serve foods to adopt food standards and procurement policies.

The grant’s goal is to implement multi-component evidence-based policies, place-based strategies, and promising practices to increase demand for and access to healthy, affordable foods and opportunities for daily physical activity for all New Yorkers. The Obesity Prevention Center for Excellence (OPCE), led by JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. (JSI) strengthens the CHSC Initiative’s collective impact by providing technical assistance, training, resources, and a network to collaborate.

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