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More than $500,000 in Grants to be Awarded to Help Close the Health Disparity Gap in North Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA, April 29, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — More than 30 Latino high school students joined Thomas Jefferson University and the newly formed Philadelphia Collaborative for Health Equity on Thursday to announce the results of a first-of-its-kind community health needs assessment of North Philadelphia’s Latino community, home to some of the city’s highest rates of poor health outcomes and health risk factors.

At an event held at Taller Puertorriqueño in North Philadelphia, students, through self-shot photos arranged in photo-gallery fashion, poignantly illustrated some of the results of this needs assessment from their unique vantage point — underscoring the environmental challenges they face in their North Philadelphia communities that negatively impact their health and well-being. Higher rates of unemployment, homelessness, drug addiction, violence, lack of open space and play areas, and limited healthy food options are all contributing factors.

Student photos of dilapidated lots replete with radiators, and fast food chains dotting city blocks offered powerful visual narratives and photo captions of the plight: “Sellers are collecting bad radiators and taking advantage of people who don’t know better … when they get the radiator it doesn’t work. They are using an empty lot that is not theirs when that lot could be used for something better,” and “This isn’t healthy for any of us. Fast food and fast food, over and over again isn’t right,” noted the student photographers.

“This is a brilliant project that shows how much young people get it, and our job is to listen to them,” said Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA, President of Thomas Jefferson University and CEO of Jefferson Health. “We began the Philadelphia Collaborative for Health Equity to bring people together, just like this, to draw attention to the issues in our communities and to target solutions for health disparities in our city. Sadly, Philadelphia still has an estimated 60,000 children going hungry and 40 percent living in poverty. We can and must do better.”

Against this compelling backdrop, Thomas Jefferson University and the newly formed Philadelphia Collaborative for Health Equity shared the results of a first-ever community health needs assessment of the North Philadelphia Latino community, which includes the neighborhoods of Frankford, Fair Hill, Harrowgate, Hunting Park, Juniata Park, Kensington and Port Richmond.

Of note from the health needs assessment is the fact that the Latino population in North Philadelphia attains lower than the national, state and Philadelphia averages for income levels and in achieving high school diplomas or GEDs. More than 45 percent live below the poverty line, the highest in Philadelphia, according to the report.

Due to a combination of socioeconomic and environmental factors, the report postulates that the North Philadelphia Latino community has higher rates of diabetes, asthma, Hepatitis C, mental health issues and obesity than national, state and Philadelphia averages, resulting in a life expectancy of 71 to 74 years old. By contrast, life expectancy for residents of Center City is 80 to 83 years old.

Jefferson and the Philadelphia Collaborative for Health Equity also announced Thursday that they are awarding more than $500,000 in grants to organizations focused on closing the health disparity gap in North Philadelphia. This is the first major announcement since Jefferson, through a generous donation by the Lindy Family (in honor of Emily and Zell Kravinsky) helped create the Philadelphia Collaborative. This initial collaboration involves more than 25 community organizations servicing the Latino community in North Philadelphia. The overarching mission of the Philadelphia Collaborative for Health Equity is to bring organizations like these together to create large-scale solutions to reduce the health disparity gap, where it’s often said that zip code – not genetic code – is the biggest determinant in a person’s long-term health and well-being.

Jack Ludmir, MD, the co-founder of Puentes de Salud, Latina Community Health Services and the newly formed Jefferson Latina Clinic, all of which offer free and low-cost health care and social services to the uninsured Philadelphia immigrant population, has been named Executive Director of the Philadelphia Collaborative.

A more detailed reporting of the health needs assessment outcomes, as well as guidelines for submitting proposals for grant funding, will be available on the Philadelphia Collaborative for Health Equity website at: starting May 1. For more information and a full list of Philadelphia Collaborative for Health Equity partner organizations visit  Follow the Collaborative on Twitter handle @P_C_H_E.

About Jefferson

Jefferson, located in the greater Philadelphia region and southern New Jersey, is reimagining health care and education to create unparalleled value. Jefferson is 30,000 people strong, dedicated to providing the highest quality, compassionate clinical care for patients, preparing tomorrow’s professional leaders for 21st century careers, and discovering new treatments to define the future of care. Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University), home of Sidney Kimmel Medical College, dates back to 1824 and today comprises 10 colleges and three schools offering 160 undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 8,400 students. Jefferson Health serves patients through millions of encounters each year at 14 hospitals and over 40 outpatient and urgent care locations throughout the region.

SOURCE Thomas Jefferson University