ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A poverty simulation took place at Rochester Regional Health’s Wegman Center Thursday. It’s aim is to increase empathy and awareness among healthcare professionals who often work with individuals who are in impoverished communities.

More than 80 healthcare professionals were immersed in a month long simulation condensed into an hour. Each one given a role which they have to act out for the purpose of the simulation. 

“We’re trying to replicate per say what can happen impoverished communities, is it a perfect translation, no, but it’s a pretty good example,” said Nancy Shelton, with Coordinated Care Services. 

Mary Ann Bradey works at the St. Mary’s campus of Rochester Regional, her role is an 19-year old single mother who was denied SNAP benefits. 

 “I felt like I had to protect my child and there was no way I could do that,” said Bradey as she expressed how it felt like participating in the simulation. “The barriers they face, the complicated scenarios, you know getting insurance for their child. not having enough formula for their newborns.” 

Between each week, there was a 15 minute break where families regrouped and tried to come up with a plan to survive the next week. An eye opening experience for these healthcare workers.

“Poverty is one of those social determinants of health. When you are trying to help a person with their health condition, you must think about what’s happening when they go home. If you’re dealing with poverty there are so many complexities and so many barriers that can be preventative of you being able to achieve health and wellness,” said Shelton. 

A simulation that healthcare leaders hope will go a long way with their staff and provide better care to those in need.

This was the first simulation done by Coordinated Care Services at RRH. The company has done 30 of these simulations state-wide at hospitals and churches.