CITY survey rates COMMUNITY healtH
By Neil S. Friedman
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) last month issued a comprehensive profile of the health of Canarsie/Flatlands and 41 other New York City neighborhoods, which were designated by zip codes.
A summary of the unique and unprecedented study revealed that the Canarsie/Flatlands community (11234, 11236, 11239) has an average rate of mortality and illness compared to the rest of the city. The categories these ratings include: general health, maternal and child health, infectious diseases, chronic diseases, and access to medical care.
As part of the study, a survey was taken among Canarsie/Flatlands residents asking them to rate their own health. Seventeen percent consider their health as "poor" or "fair," compared to 19 percent citywide and 14 percent nationwide.
Additional information in the local report card details the leading causes of illness, hospitalization and death, in addition to indicating New Yorkers health behaviors and how the healthcare system provides preventive treatment.
"These reports provide an in-depth diagnosis of the health problems facing each community in New York City and are an important step in giving New Yorkers the information we need to be healthier," said Health Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "While many health burdens are shared across the City, some communities are faring better than others. These reports make it clear where the greatest efforts must take place to address and reverse health problems, particularly those that are preventable. They are the first-ever reports of their kind, and are likely the most detailed community-specific health reports done anywhere in the country."
Adam Karpati, M.D., Director of the Health Department’s Brooklyn District Public Health Office and lead author of the 42 reports added, "In health, communities matter. They matter because the least healthy communities are the poorest communities, and because solutions to the many health challenges facing New Yorkers often lie in neighborhood residents, community organizations, and government agencies focusing efforts cooperatively at the citywide and local levels."
Some major findings include the following:
• Tobacco use is by far the leading cause of illness and death citywide. One in eight in this community smokes.
• Some neighborhoods — North and Central Brooklyn among them — have consistently high burdens of disease in almost all indicators.
• AIDS deaths in Morrisania and Highbridge in the Bronx and in East Harlem are three and a half times greater than the city average.
• Asthma affects a large number of children and is a leading cause of missed school days and hospitalizations. There were 157 from Canarsie/Flatlands in this category.
•Alcohol-related hospitalizations are high in all neighborhoods in New York City.
•Infant mortality is highest in Central Brooklyn and Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
•Compared to the city as a whole, heart and lung diseases are highest in Staten Island neighborhoods, which have a 27%—30% smoking rate compared to the overall city smoking rate of 22%.
•Almost one in four residents get no physical activity. That same ratio of residents are considered obese compared to 18 percent citywide.
The health report also contained some 2000 census data for Canarsie/Flatlands: 1) Nearly 40 percent of residents are foreign born with Jamaica, Haiti and other Caribbean countries leading the list; 2) More than half of residents are of African-American ethnicity. Whites make up 33 percent of residents, Hispanics 9%, and Asians 4 percent; 3) Residents are slightly younger than the city average. Reports are also being distributed to health providers, community organizations, elected officials, libraries, the media and a host of other community stakeholders. They are also available online at nyc.gov/health, or in hard copy. Data tables listing all communities are available online. Individual copies of the report can be ordered by calling 311.