Monday, August 8, 2011

New Analysis Highlights 44th District Health & Poverty

Two months ago, I attended the Medical Society of Northern Virginia's Legislative Breakfast and watched an excellent preview of the Partnership for a Healthier Fairfax's Community Health Assessment for Fairfax County. You can read more about it here. They recently came out with their final assessment that you can read here. I have cut and pasted a few slides below (click on them to enlarge).

First, to understand the statistics relative to the (new) 44th Delegate District you need to understand a couple datapoints. The 44th District is more diverse than Fairfax County. In Fairfax County, Black and Hispanic households are disproportionately affected by poverty and 13.8% of Fairfax County residents are living at less than 200% of Federal Poverty Level ($44K/yr. for a family of four). Therefore, in the 44th District, that percentage is higher. This is easy to see if you simply look at it graphically below (click to enlarge).
This translates to a higher uninsured population. Eleven percent of Fairfax County's foreign born citizen population does not have health insurance and thirty six percent of our non-citizen foreign born population. Five percent of Fairfax County's native born population is uninsured.

That translates in to more emergency room visits and more emergency rooms visits for non-acute illnesses for residents in the 44th District. People who have no way of paying for their health care often have to resort to hospital emergency rooms. This is one of the most expensive forms of health care and we all end up paying for it in the end. Patients do not have a regular doctor or "medical home" and do not get ongoing preventive and other care. See the next two charts.

In Fairfax County, Hispanic 8th-12th Graders reported feels of depression at rates 50 % higher than the rate of white children. Black children reported feelings of depression about 25% higher. Surprisingly, suicide rates among whites and blacks was double the rate for hispanics for individuals age 15-24.

Lastly, the survey has this chart regarding low birthweight clients by zipcode.

The bottom lines from the survey:

  • "Segments of the population experience a disproportionate share of adverse social conditions and poor health outcomes." Page 51

  • "Substantially higher emergency department use rates for basic medical services by residents from communities with poor socioeconomic conditions - Route 1 Corridor, Bailey's Crossroads/Culmore Area, Southeastern Fairfax County." Page 52.

  • Major communicable disease disparities (HIV, TB, STD's). Page 53.

  • Major maternal health disparities (teen pregnancy, neonatal deaths, low birth weights and infant death rates were higher in varous subgroups). Page 54.

  • Major cause of death disparities. Page 55.

Their next step is to identify strategic issues and to formulate goals and strategies. Their next meeting is September 27, 2011 at 4:00 p.m. at the Fairfax County Government Center, Conference Rooms 2/3.

Many people do not realize the breadth, depth, or consequences of the economic problems in my district. Some of these statistics really brought it home and demonstrate the importance of sustaining programs like Medicaid, TANFF, and Child Support Enforcement in Fairfax County along with continuing to support other private programs such as the Medical Care for Children Partnership that I blogged about here or the Healthy Families Program. Without them, the bottom would fall out of these communities.

This does not even begin to address the effects poor healthcare has on academic performance or long-term quality of life - they are all correlated. It reminded me of the Yale Medical student, Jorge Ramallo, who keynoted this year's MCCP banquet and by telling us how the health insurance provided by MCCP gave him and his siblings pediatric well-child visits and gave his mother peace of mind that allowed him to achieve his potential. If we would only seriously address these problems, we would go a long way to helping everyone in our community realize their full potential.

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