Pandemic’s Impact on Chelsea and the City’s Response, Including Older Adults, Highlighted in New Report

The City of Chelsea was featured among six communities in a report conducted by FSG and promoted by the Mass. Healthy Aging Collaborative, Tufts Health Plan Foundation and Executive Office of Elder Affairs on pandemic response that supported older adults. Now, a new report by the community-based organization GreenRoots goes into detail about why the city was hit hard by COVID-19, but also how collaboration and inclusion propelled the city to come together and respond collectively.

The intersecting social determinants of health in Chelsea played a key role in COVID-19 infection rates and the severity of illness as the city became an early epicenter of the pandemic. Overcrowded housing, racial inequity, immigration status, the digital divide and language barriers played key roles as well, according to the report.

The report includes data and testimonials from residents in several focus areas before recommending policy changes for each category. The report does an effective and impactful job of tying social determinants of health for the entire community, including older adults, to outcomes and what needs to change. For age- and dementia friendly communities looking to advance equity, access and inclusion, the report illustrates what is possible.

The report ends with their response to the pandemic stating that, “city officials, medical professionals, nonprofit agency staff, faith-based leaders, multilingual interpreters, school administrators, and countless resident volunteers with big hearts all worked together— and continue to do so. This collective effort represents the best of Chelsea; and should serve as a national model of community-led emergency response.”

All along the way, GreenRoots included older adults in their data and examples that include a pandemic response working group that focused on “elders” and the senior center facilitating weekly deliveries of food to homebound and/or vulnerable
members of Chelsea’s aging population.

For more information, see the GreenRoots report here.