The poor, the needy and the homeless

Subject: Sociology
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 8
Word count: 2239
Topics: Poverty, Health, Homelessness, Medicine, Social Issues


The vulnerable population addressed in this practice was the poor, the needy, and the homeless. Specifically, the population was drawn from Queens, New York, an area with a high population of needy, poor, and homeless persons. The health disparities experienced by this population were assessed, particularly with respect to the elements of public safety, economic empowerment, and access to health care centers. These elements were identified as the three key social determinants of health in the area. Of critical importance to the examination of the condition of the target population was the Jesus Is the Answer (JITA) Community Outreach located on 140-46 BLVD, Jamaica, New York 11434. The church is a key health stakeholder in the area as it serves the poor, the needy, and the homeless by offering them food. The church is one of the numerous food pantries in Jamaica, Queens whose mission is to ensure that even disadvantaged people such as the homeless have access to quality food. These food pantries play an integral role in enhancing the health of the homeless members of the Jamaica community by providing food that protects this population from illness caused by consuming unhealthy food.

Summary and Analysis of Statistical Data

The poor, needy, and homeless population of Jamaica, Queens experience significant strain with regard to attaining health. Specifically, this population is subject to factors such as gender bias, physical disability, and racism that undermine their capacity to attain optimal levels of health. Jamaica, Queens and neighboring areas are served by a high number of health care facilities that aim at providing residents with access to quality health care. As such, the ratio of health care practitioner-to-resident in the area is quite favorable, guaranteeing residents of sufficient quality time with the medics. Also, the area is also served by numerous charity hospitals, which provide health care services at no cost. The presence of these free facilities ensures that even individuals unable to afford insurance have access to quality health care. Jamaica, Queens, also boasts of a high number of ambulances, as well as Registered Nurses (RNs) responsible for providing emergency and critical care to patients during emergencies and accidents.

The rate of unemployed witnessed in Queens is significantly low, meaning that residents have access to quality food and health care that promote their health. The low rate of unemployment in Queens has produced a huge population of insured individuals. Notably, at least 84 percent of the population in Queens is insured, ensuring that most residents have access to medical care at minimal or no cost. In essence, it is evident that economic empowerment the Queens community is instrumental in undermining sickness. Particularly, such empowerment has significantly undermined the incident of stress-related illnesses in the Queens community. In addition to access to free health care from charity hospitals homeless individuals in Queens have access to food pantries such as the JITA Community Outreach that provide them with quality food to further enhance their health. Furthermore, residents of Jamaica, Queens experience low rates of violence-related illnesses and deaths given the low crime rates witnessed in the area. The health of residents is further guaranteed illnesses caused by stress from constant fear of being attacked.

However, in spite of access to the aforementioned health resources, poor, needy, and homeless individuals in Jamaica, Queens have to contend with racism, which is a notable health disparity with significant effects on health. Racism places poor and needy individuals in a vulnerable position concerning access to proper housing (Bloch, Rozmovits & Giambrone, 2012). Specifically, racial segregation has confined many poor, needy, and homeless individuals to neighborhoods with unhealthy conditions such as insecurity, polluted air supply, and unclean water supply. Additionally, racism continues to be a huge impediment to access to optimal health as it undermines the capacity of the vulnerable population to access well-paying jobs, which ultimately results in their inaccessibility to proper nutrition. Poor economic conditions have forced many households into homelessness. Today, many Mexican families are living in the streets of Jamaica, Queens. These homeless individuals live in miserable conditions, including poor sanitation, and lack of access to fresh water. Undoubtedly, this further compounds the health problems experienced by this population.

Another major impediment to access to health is gender bias. Such bias undermines access to better-paying jobs, thereby interfering with the capacity of individuals to access better nutrition and health care (Solar & Irwin, 2010). Gender bias means that many qualified individuals are sidelined with regard to gaining job promotions and pay raises. Due to gender bias, such people may remain confined to their low-paying jobs that do not grant them access to proper health insurance, or nutrition. In the end, such individuals are at risk of being unable to acquire proper health care. This is particularly so in single-parent households where one parent’s income is inadequate to meet the health-related needs of the family fully.

Furthermore, physical disabilities are a significant barrier to health in the Jamaica, Queens community. This is primarily because physical disabilities undermine the capacity of individuals to engage in physical activities that promote health, making them susceptible to contracting conditions such as obesity that ultimately result in other serious health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases. Physical disabilities further exacerbate other health disparities such as discrimination by hindering individuals from gaining promotions in their workplaces, resulting in a financial crisis that undermines the capacity to access proper health insurance and nutrition. Furthermore, individuals suffering from physical disabilities are more susceptible to fall-related injuries give the lack of sufficient handicap accessible houses in the area. This means that physically disabled individuals experience a significant risk of falling on steps.

In addition to these societal-based health problems, the poor, needy, and homeless population in Jamaica, Queens also suffer from self-inflicted health problems. For instance, approximately 13 percent of adults in Queens are smokers. Smoking significantly interferes with the attainment of optimal health by enhancing the risk of contracting serious diseases such as, among others, pulmonary diseases, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. However, significant strides are being made by health stakeholders in the area to undermine smoking. There are a number of ongoing awareness campaigns that condemn smoking. Based on this analysis, it is evident that there is a need for the local government to institute necessary action by setting up more shelters for the homeless. Also, there is a clear need for improved sanitation and provision of fresh water in public places. This will be instrumental in ensuring that all populations, including vulnerable homeless people, have access to proper sanitation and safe water.

On aggregate, the vulnerable population of Queens is susceptible to two major community health problems, namely poor education and exposure to hazards. Poor education is a huge impediment to access to health as it impairs access to well-paying jobs capable of sustaining payment of health insurance, and proper nutrition (Solar & Irwin, 2010). In addition to undermining access to health insurance and proper nutrition, poor education also undermines proper self-care, which is instrumental in health attainment. Self-care is especially critical among sufferers of serious health conditions such as asthma and diabetes. Poor education undermines the capacity of individuals to manage their health care needs effectively with self-care. Also, exposure to hazards such as poor sanitation and unsafe water further undermines the health of the vulnerable population in Jamaica, Queens.

Community Diagnosis

A community diagnosis is vital for identifying and quantifying community health problems with regard to morbidity and mortality and discovering their correlates to discover individuals at risk, or in need of health care (Browne, Varcoe et al. 2012). The problem identified as affecting the poor, needy, and homeless population of Jamaica, Queens regards access to quality health care. This issue is of particular significance given that the population is susceptible to major factors that interfere with their access to quality health care. These factors include poor education, exposure to hazards, and health disparities such as racism, physical disability, and economic conditions. It is evident from the analysis of the conditions in Jamaica, Queens that the poor, needy, and homeless population is exposed to an array of barriers that impede their access to quality care.

Generally speaking, Queens is a booming area with an assortment of resources such as many health care facilities and practitioners, as well as positive conditions such as low crime rates and low rates of unemployment. However, despite this, vulnerable populations continue to experience difficulty attaining optimal standards of health such as access to quality health care as envisioned by the Health People 2020 initiative. In fact, the poor, needy, and homeless population in Jamaica, Queens continues to experience conditions that limit the attainment of this health standard. Conditions such as poor access to proper sanitation and nutrition continue to affect the population’s attainment of health. However, the community possesses various strengths that can adequately address these challenges. For instance, the food pantries available throughout Queens are invaluable resources in expanding the health of poor, needy, and homeless persons in the area. Additionally, the presence of organizations that offer free health care is a major strength that should be considered in tackling the problem of access to health by the vulnerable population. In the end, there is a need for government commitment to enhancing sanitation and access to proper housing for poor, needy, and homeless people.

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Advocacy and Leadership

Individuals in the Jamaica, Queens identity proper sanitation and fresh water as some of the central resources needed to enhance their health. This need is especially felt by poor, needy, and homeless individuals who live in horrid living conditions characterized by poor housing, or the complete lack of it in the case of the homeless. The homeless identify lack of sufficient homeless shelters as a huge barrier to their access to health. Community services available to assist this population include charitable organizations that provide free food and health care to homeless persons. The JITA church alongside charitable health facilities in Queens is at the forefront with regard to advocating the health of poor, needy, and homeless individuals in the community. A notable health promotional initiative implemented to steer change in the community is the anti-smoking campaign established to dissuade from smoking the 13 percent of adults in Queens who engage in the health-damaging behavior.

The leadership role used to promote this health promotion initiative is the community health nursing role. Community health nurses play a critical role in caring for the vulnerable population, as well as advocating changes in behavior such as quitting smoking by educating the population regarding the harms caused by smoking (Vahabi & Damba, 2013). The evaluation process applicable to determine the effectiveness of this initiative is recording changes in the rates of smoking in the community. According to the evaluation of community health programs is a practical and continuous process that involves community health practitioners, community members, and other relevant health stakeholders. The identified evaluation process will involve continually gathering information concerning the target population with regard to the identified health needs such as access to healthcare, proper sanitation, and nutrition. This information will be assessed to determine changes in the health needs and gaps in service.

Reflection and Conclusion

The C/PHN competence I used to attain the goals of the practice experience was communication. Using this competence, I was able to utilize effective listening, as well verbal and non-verbal communication capacities to appreciate the perspectives of community members and be understood by those with whom I interacted. During the practice experience, I gained extensive insight into the community. I learned that socioeconomic, as well as racial factors, play an integral role in influencing access to health by fractions of the community. I also learned that the community consists of tightly bonded groups that look out for one another. For instance, I noted that a close kinship between individuals living in the shelters. Although these individuals lacked in terms of economic resources, they were kind and cordial with one another.

Throughout the practice experience, I uncovered significant revelations concerning the needs of the community. Significantly, I discovered that the community placed clean drinking water and proper sanitation at the top of their community health related needs. The community appeared to appreciate the significant role played by proper sanitation in promoting community health. I also realized that although the community was keen on seeking the assistance of government in remedying situations such as sanitation, they were reluctant to steer clear of personal behaviors that interfere with their attainment of optimal health.

Specifically, I discovered that many members of the community were reluctant to quit smoking despite ongoing advocacy and educational initiatives aimed at demonstrating the demerits of smoking on health. This information will impact my nursing practice and role as a professional nurse by influencing me to actively engage in research to uncover innovative ways of steering change in communities. Also, gaining insight into the challenges experienced by poor, needy, and homeless individuals in attaining health further expanded my desire to assist every person to achieve optimal health in line with national and international standards. My role in population-focused care is to translate health objectives and standards established by health practices that assist populations to attain desired health outcomes (Jagosh, Macaulay et al. 2012). For instance, by acting as an educator teaching against adverse health behaviors such as smoking, I can positively promote population focused care in populations of smokers or those suffering from serious health conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, or obesity.

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  1. Bloch, G., Rozmovits, L., & Giambrone, B. (2012). Barriers to primary care responsiveness to poverty as a risk factor for health. BMC Family Practice, 12, 62.
  2. Browne, A. J., Varcoe, C. M. et al. (2012). Closing the health equity gap: Evidence-based strategies for primary health care organizations. International Journal of Equity Health, 11(59).
  3. Jagosh, J., Macaulay, A. C. et al. (2012). Uncovering the benefits of participatory research: Implications of a realist review for health research and practice. Milbank Quarterly, 90, 311–346.
  4. Solar, O., & Irwin, A. (2010). Social determinants of health discussion paper 2 (policy and practice). Geneva: World Health Organization. A conceptual framework for action on the social determinants of health.
  5. Vahabi, M., & Damba, C. (2013). Perceived barriers in accessing food among recent Latin
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