The United States ranks among the highest in healthcare spending but health outcomes, particularly of marginalized populations, consistently fall short when compared to other healthcare systems. Efforts are being made to address the lack of adequate healthcare for the low-income populations who need it most. These efforts include addressing Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) needs, which encompass the social factors that are impacting a person’s health such as food and housing insecurity, access to transportation for health appointments, and insurance coverage. Hometown Health Centers, a safety net primary care clinic in Schenectady, has recently implemented an SDOH program to connect patients with resources for their SDOH needs. In this study, I aim to use a social justice framework to analyze this program’s approach to addressing the SDOH needs of the patients. Through conducting ethnographic studies on the operations of the program at Hometown and interviews with leaders of the community-based organizations that patients are directed to, I aim to understand the motivations that drive their work, the features that lead to their successes, and the constraints they fight to overcome. I hope to apply my findings to help improve other SDOH and community health initiatives.
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