Schenectady County has received a $1.5 million state grant to go into city neighborhoods and reduce environmental housing hazards linked to illness and injury.
“This funding will allow county public health nurses to continue to reach directly into the community to work with families and other residents to reduce environmental health hazards,” Legislature Vice Chairwoman Karen Johnson, who heads the Health and Human Services Committee, said in a news release,
Following the awarding of the state Department of Health grant, which is to be used over five years, the county Public Health Services department will expand its Healthy Neighborhood Program and hire a public health systems administrator.
The administrator will earn an annual salary between $47,487 and $56,182, which will come out of the county budget, said Joe McQueen, the county spokesman.
“This position will allow the department to focus on epidemiology [the incidence, distribution and control of disease in a population]; development of public heath plans and strategies, including community health assessment and preparedness plans; health date analysis; program evaluation; and grant administration activities,” Public Health Director Joanne Cocozzoli wrote in a memo to County Manager Kathleen Rooney.
The county will also direct two additional nurses to the program, which previously had only one part-time nurse, McQueen said. No new nurse positions will be created, as two nurses recently retired, but the grant funding will go toward the nurses’ salaries.
The nurses will work with residents to identify unhealthy conditions, such as old carpeting that might trigger asthma attacks, and how to improve those conditions.
“That’s what’s going to allow us to do so much more,” McQueen said. “We’re going to have more feet on the ground to go into the community and work with these families.”
The grant funding will also help the county purchase smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, smoking cessation packets, cleaning supplies, dust-wipe mops and first-aid kits, among other health products, that will be provided to residents free of charge.
“With more nurses making more visits, we’ll be needing more supplies, more incentives,” Cocozzoli said.