The city Department of Public Health and Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University recently released the first report to detail health measures at the neighborhood level in Philadelphia. The report, which ranks both “health outcomes” and “health factors” among 46 neighborhoods in Philadelphia, has the city’s “Upper Kensington” neighborhood ranked dead last – 46th of 46 – in both respects. The health outcomes section of the report is simply a combination of quality of life and length of life weighted equally. However, the health factors section is a bit more complicated. A plurality of the health factors section – 40 percent – is based on social and economic factors, whereas 30 percent is based on health behaviors, 20 percent is based on clinical care and the remaining 10 percent is based on physical environment. The other three River Wards neighborhoods ranked by the study lie among the middle of the pack. Richmond-Bridesburg is 21st in health outcomes and 22nd in health factors, while Lower Kensington is 14th in health outcomes and 19th in health factors and Northern Liberties-West Kensington is 26th in health outcomes and 27th in health factors. According to the report, the life expectancy among men is 63.9, compared to the city average of 62.3. Among women, the life expectancy is 71.5 in Upper Kensington, compared to the city average of 79.3. Center City East is the neighborhood with the highest life expectancy among men at 82.0, and Center City West is the neighborhood with the highest life expectancy among women at 84.6.
Upper Kensington ranks 46th in a number of categories in the report, including residents with poor mental health (22.7 percent compared to the city average of 14.6 percent), adult smoking (35.7 percent compared to the city average of 22.2 percent), injury deaths (203.1 per 100,000 people, compared to the city average of 68.6) and, perhaps most obviously, drug overdose deaths (152.1 per 100,00 people, which is way beyond the city average of 44.8 per 100,000).
“The Close to Home report puts into stark relief something that we’ve known for a while: there are too many neighborhoods in Philadelphia that make good health difficult to achieve,” said the city’s health commissioner, Tom Farley. “The structural factors in those neighborhoods shape health behaviors and lead to poor health outcomes. With this new data, we hope to be able to better direct our actions to protect people’s health wherever they live.”
“The report shows that while national ranking reports find Philadelphia lagging other large cities in health, these poor health indicators are not evenly found within Philadelphia,” a city press release for the report stated. “Just a few miles in the city can change a person’s life expectancy by nearly twenty years. The report can be found on the Health Department’s website, and in a specially designed website.”
The report measures a variety of other health factors by neighborhood, including high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, adult obesity, teen births, reading proficiency, violent crime and housing code violations.