The Bronx was recently named the least healthy county in New York for the seventh year in a row, Crain's reported. The ranking comes from an annual county health rankings list published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
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Crain's New York Business reported earlier this year that the Bronx has held last place among New York's 62 counties since the rankings were first published.
The rankings take into account factors such as length of life, quality of life, health behaviors, clinical care, social/economic factors and the physical environment. Specific measures include low birthweight, smoking, obesity, access to exercise, number of uninsured patients, unemployment, child poverty, violent crime, air pollution and more.
Dr. Daniel Stephens, director of adolescent medicine at the Union Community Health Center in the Bronx, told Crain's that social and economic factors can't be ignored when considering the borough's poor health outcomes. “When you talk about the social determinants of health — the things that affect people's lives that make them end up in the hospital — there's no getting around those disparities and how they affect kids, families and whole communities. That's the context we're in now in the Bronx,” he said.
Though it's still ranked last in the state, the Bronx is showing signs of improvement, including in length of life, sexually transmitted infections and preventable hospitalizations, Crain's reported. Other reasons for optimism include the Bronx last year winning the RWJ Foundation's "Culture of Health" award and the borough's $28 million investment in city parks since 2009, according to Crain's.
Healthify hopes to play a role in helping the Bronx and other regions with poor health outcomes by efficiently connecting underserved people in those areas with the social programs that can help them achieve good health. By focusing on addressing social determinants of health such as housing, food and job placement — things that lie outside of clinical care but can have just as much impact on one's health — Healthify aims to create a healthier society.