Local Communities Use Data to Tackle Health Disparities


April 20, 2015

This past winter, Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Commissioner Mary Bassett announced their plans to improve health equity and address long-standing health disparities through the revival of the District Public Health Offices and the expansion of NYC’s community health network.

One important element of the plan is the Neighborhood Health Hub Initiative, in which communities will engage in comprehensive planning efforts to determine their local health priorities and then leverage existing assets including community-based organizations and local leaders to help close the gap on health disparities.

DOHMH will provide physical space in District Public Health Office buildings to allow Community Based Organizations (CBOs), medical providers and other government agencies to co-locate and serve the community. The shared space will help foster community-level collaboration around population health concerns and bolster coordination of care, prevention education and disease management. The health hubs will be established in eight existing city-owned health buildings, located in Bedford, Brownsville, Bushwick, and Williamsburg in Brooklyn; Central Harlem and East Harlem in Manhattan; and Morrisania and Tremont in the Bronx.

As neighborhoods move forward with their community health planning processes, CCC encourages community members and providers to use CCC’s Keeping Track Online resource to help inform and tailor community public health plans.

CCC’s online tool allows you to map, chart and graph data by community and/or topic. Below are some examples of how the KT data could help health hubs with their planning:

  • Asthma in Morrisania: The Morrisania community district has the highest number of asthma-related emergency room visits for children ages 0-4 and the second highest number of visits for children ages 5-14 years old.  Children living in Morrisania are more than twice as likely to visit the emergency room for asthma compared to the citywide average rate. Research has linked high rates of childhood asthma with poor housing conditions. According to the Keeping Track Online database, 58% of Morrisania residents reported fair to poor housing conditions.
  • Infant Mortality in Central Harlem: Central Harlem’s Infant Mortality Rate (calculated as infant deaths per 1,000 live births) is nearly double the citywide rate (8.4 compared to 4.8).  A key to preventing infant mortality is physician monitoring initiated during the early stages of pregnancy. In 2012, the three leading causes of infant mortality were birth defects (21.4%), followed by prematurity (short gestation and low birth weight) (20.4%) and cardiovascular disease deaths (12.9%). Adequate prenatal care is essential for the early identification and treatment of the aforementioned health conditions. Despite this, approximately one in ten mothers living in Central Harlem reported receiving late or prenatal care.
  • Uninsured Families in Bushwick: Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood has the fourth highest number of uninsured individuals in New York City, with approximately 37,100 individuals without health insurance coverage. Health insurance coverage ensures access to timely and affordable medical care and can reduce costly hospitalizations. Uninsured individuals are more likely to have poor health outcomes because they are less likely to use preventive services or have access to critical early screening exams.

In the spirit of achieving health equity in New York City, CCC encourages all communities to use Keeping Track Online as a resource to inform their community planning and activism.  In addition to the aforementioned health indicators, this comprehensive and centralized database provides a wealth of data and statistics in the areas of housing and community life, early childhood education, education, youth services, economic conditions, and child welfare.

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