Friday, August 23, 2013

New York City's poor targeted by silent killer: heat

Thomson Reuters Foundation: In the East New York neighborhood of New York City’s Brooklyn, a new danger is poised to increase stress on the area’s disadvantaged population. That threat - nothing to do with the well-publicized problems of drugs, gangs or guns - is heat stroke, experts say.

“When it’s hot out, it gets really busy in here,” said Alexandra Grainger, an emergency room nurse at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, whose service area includes the low-income neighborhoods of East Harlem and Roosevelt Island, as well as Yorkville which has many older people.

“It’s sad because most of the people are either elderly and don't know how to deal with the heat, or are less fortunate and cannot afford an air conditioner. It's a silent killer because the warning signs aren’t obvious and most don’t realize they are sick until it’s too late,” the nurse added.

That goes for the most vulnerable residents of Brooklyn, where housing projects abut liquor stores, and children play against a backdrop of boarded-up shops, overgrown lots and drug deals.

The unemployment rates in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of East New York and Brownsville are the highest in the city, standing at around 20 percent, and a little over half of residents receive some form of social support. In the summer, air conditioning for many is limited to an open fire hydrant.

“Research has shown that poverty-stricken areas in New York City see a greater increase in morbidity than other areas during a heat wave,” said Pat Kinney, a researcher with the Consortium for Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast (CCRUN), part of the Earth Institute at New York City’s Columbia University....

A 1942 shot of the Kosciusko public swimming pool in Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn

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