COVID-19 Waging War on SDoH

The world has seemingly been on pause for months. It’s fair to say that every American has felt the effects of the pandemic in some form. Over 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the start of the pandemic, with a projected 45% increase in homelessness, all alongside a staggering 2 million confirmed cases and 114 thousand deaths at the time of this writing [i]. Previous articles on the EccoVia Solutions blog have highlighted the effects of COVID-19 within higher-risk groups, such as those experiencing homelessness; however, the pandemic calls for communities and health organizations to look at the larger issues of those affected by turning to the Social Determinants of Health (SDoH). 

Who’s affected?

From those struggling with poor mental health to homeless college students, the number of Americans facing SDoH insecurity stretches further than the homeless. The SDoH can be broken down into five subcategories—economic stability, education, social/community context, health/healthcare, and neighborhood/built environment. The following numbers represent national deficiencies within the five areas of SDoH insecurity:

  • 14.3 million households were food insecure during 2018 [ii]
  • 9 million children will struggle to complete school assignments or participate in online classes during COVID-19 due to not having internet access at home [iii]
  • 15% of released prisoners will be homeless at some point during their first year of freedom [iv]

US citizens are facing many more challenges than just struggling to pay bills or find adequate housing. With the added complexities of individuals who struggle with mental illness, have been previously incarcerated, are vulnerable minors/youth, or have physical disabilities, it’s clear that care coordinators are overwhelmed with complex cases. Unfortunately, COVID-19 presents unique challenges when it comes to providing care and assistance to these individuals. Homeless shelters and food programs have had to greatly adjust their procedures to adhere to CDC guidelines for sanitation and social distancing. Additionally, with schools being closed, students of all ages no longer have access to school provided amenities, such as internet, counseling, and food.

 

Minorities in the Pandemic

Beyond the wide umbrella of the SDoH, minority groups that often struggle to meet the SDoH are especially being affected by COVID-19. For example, 72% of COVID-19 related deaths in Chicago have been African American. Michigan presents similarly staggering numbers with 33% of COVID-19 cases belonging to the black community (representing about 14% of the state’s population), as well as 41% of the state’s deaths [v­]. Similar infection/death rates have been seen within both the Latino and Native American communities as well.

Even before the pandemic, minority groups often face increased health risks due to increased instances of poverty. Economic disparity places them in situations without adequate access to healthy food, clean living conditions, or easy access to healthcare. These existing conditions have exacerbated the spread and effects of COVID-19 within these minority groups, further highlighting the need for whole person treatment and effective care coordination.

Solutions through Care Coordination 

With so many different groups struggling to meet all of the basic SDoH, care coordinators are facing increasing cases with shrinking resources. With the current and ever-changing climate of the pandemic, care coordinators must constantly adjust their processes to best help individuals struggling during the pandemic. 

Amidst all the changing processes due to COVID-19, care coordinators must work together to ensure those facing SDoH instability are receiving the care and support they need to survive the pandemic. Care coordination software, like ClientTrack by EccoVia Solutions, allows care providers to connect the various pieces of SDoH into a consolidated comprehensive care plan. Subsequently, the plan can be shared across the care team. The collaborative software paves the way to whole person care; through care coordination software, an individual can be seen by their complete situation and not just one singular symptom.

 

Sources:

[i]https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/15/us/homelessness-unemployment-increase-report-pandemic-trnd/index.html

[ii] https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/key-statistics-graphics.aspx#:~:text=Food%2Dinsecure%20households%20include%20those,from%2011.8%20percent%20in%202017.

[iii] https://usafacts.org/articles/internet-access-students-at-home/

[iv] https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/housing.html

[v] https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-04-08/coronavirus-racial-disparity  

https://www.apa.org/pi/ses/resources/indicator/2013/05/poverty-dropouts

https://time.com/5833555/us-unemployment-aid-coronavirus/

https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/social-determinants-of-health

https://all4ed.org/more-than-one-third-of-recent-high-school-dropouts-living-in-poverty/

https://www.nola.com/news/politics/article_513e3074-5cde-5ec7-88a9-7c14a04f82dd.html

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