Frontline of Care:Eastie Highlighted in BPHC’s Health of Boston Report

Mayor Martin Walsh, in conjunction with the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), recently released the BPHC’s Health of Boston report.

The report represents the overall health of Boston residents, providing a foundation for the City’s further planning and implementation of health-related services and policies, and supports the BPHC’s critical role in furthering health equity in Boston.

“This report serves as a roadmap to drive and prioritize our efforts by not only describing the health successes and challenges we face as a city, but also offering real world perspectives,” said Walsh. “We celebrate the progress made in the last decade, and look forward to continuing to build a thriving City with health for all residents at its foundation.”

In the report the BPHC focused on things like asthma related emergency department visits, rate of heart disease and heart disease deaths as well as percentages of Eastie residents that are uninsured. The report also tackled issues like housing overcrowding and open space as key elements to overall health in the city.

The report found that in 2015, the rate of heart disease hospitalizations was higher in Eastie, Mattapan and Roxbury when compared to the rest of the city.

Eastie was also singled out for having a higher heart disease mortality rate than the rest of the city.

During the years spanning from 2011 to 2015, Eastie, along with Dorchester, had a higher percentage of residents without health insurance compared with Boston overall.

“Robust data allows us to target our outreach, education, and enrollment activities,” was in the report. “In Boston, to reach the 4% of uninsured, we zeroed in on small neighborhoods, trying to provide whatever it takes to get them enrolled. For example, there are two census tracts in East Boston that have some of the highest rates of uninsured in the state: (23.7% and 20% respectively). The Mayor’s Health Line (MHL) works every day to eliminate whatever barriers exist to coverage.”

The report also found some problems with housing overcrowding in Eastie.

“For 2011-2015, three percent of occupied housing units in Boston had more than one occupant per room,” read the report. “A higher percentage of occupied housing units in East Boston had more than one occupant per room compared with Boston overall. Lower percentages of occupied housing units in Allston/Brighton, Back Bay, Jamaica Plain, and South Boston had more than one occupant per room compared with Boston overall.”

The number of adults meeting CDC guidelines for physical activity was lower in Eastie than the rest of the city, which might explain some of the high incidents of heart disease mentioned earlier.

However, some good news for Eastie is that the BPHC found that while nine percent of all infants in Boston were born with low birthweight, the percentage of low birthweight births was lower among females in Eastie and West Roxbury compared with the rest of Boston.

Cold related illness that required a trip to the emergency was also lower in Eastie from 2011 to 2015 when compared with the rest of Boston.

One interesting statistic revolved around asthma in Eastie. However, the BPHC’s report found that the asthma emergency department visit rates among children ages 5-17 were lower in Eastie compared to the rest of the city in 2014-2015. The asthma hospitalization rates among children ages 5-17 were also lower in Eastie when compared with the rest of Boston. The report also found that for 2012-2015, the rate of asthma emergency department visits among children ages 3-5 was lower in Eastie.

“As a community health center on the frontline of care, we’re thrilled to see outcomes improving for the people of Boston,” said East Boston Neighborhood Health Center CEO Manny Lopes. “The City’s health initiatives are gaining meaningful traction, indicating that we’re on the right path. Seeing such positive data for East Boston, specifically, is deeply affirming the 1,200 EBNHC team members who work to meet our mission every day. We will build on our positive momentum, improving the health and well-being of the Boston community-and continually redefining what’s possible.”

BPHC Executive Director Monica Valdes Lupi, JD, MPH said the data and points of view included within the report serve to guide the Health Commission’s work, inform its strategic priorities, and increase its capacity to address these challenges through targeted partnerships and collaboration.

“This report gives us the foundation to tailor our services to the most urgent needs of Boston residents, specifically the most vulnerable,” she said.

While Chief of Health and Human Services Marty Martinez said he was encouraged by the progress Boston has already made toward creating opportunities for all residents to live healthy, fulfilling lives.

“With this data, we are prepared to look toward the future, to work with partners, providers, and residents on tackling health issues collectively and with a broader lens,” he said. “We will look beyond individual programs and services to build out a system of compassionate care that encompasses all of the needs of Boston’s residents.”

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