U. of C. releases assessment Of community health needs


South Siders say chronic diseases, a need for violence prevention and trauma resiliency and health inequities are their key health concerns, according to the University of Chicago Medical Center’s (UCMC) 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment, which is issued triennially. It also profiled specific neighborhoods’ medical and socio-economic demographics, including Hyde Park and Kenwood.

The 2019 report included an analysis of social determinants of health inequities, like higher levels of chronic disease and violence in communities with education, poverty and employment levels and access to care. Over half of the population within the UCMC’s service area lives in poverty, and half of all residents are at risk for food insecurity.

UCMC will use the report, which was researched through community resident surveys and focus groups as well as public health and crime data, when allocating resources. Through 2021, the priorities are preventing and managing chronic diseases, building trauma resiliency with a focus on violence recovery and mental health and reducing health inequities by addressing social determinants of health.

“The Community Health Needs Assessment establishes which community health concerns require UChicago Medicine’s attention and resources, and we respond accordingly with strategic programs and collaborative partnerships, including those related to asthma, diabetes, violence prevention and more,” said U. of C. medicine professor Doriane Miller in a statement. “Based on the latest findings and analyses of social determinants of health, our work will focus on increasing access to food for patients with food insecurities, expanding access to health care and providing more employment opportunities for community residents.”

The report found Hyde Park’s median household income to be $53,366, slightly higher than Chicago’s $53,006 — though economic demographics are often skewed in areas with high student populations. Nearly three-quarters of the population has at least a bachelor’s degree, but 40% of households spend 30% or more of their annual income on housing, and 11% of children live in poverty. A third of households are at risk of food insecurity, and 9% of them receive food stamps. The violent crime rate is nearly half that of Chicago’s, and 91% of adults report feeling safe in the neighborhood.

While Hyde Park reported 3% population growth between 2016 and 2010 (Chicago’s growth was at 6%), the population in Kenwood dropped 4% in that time. Kenwood’s median household income was $46,926; 22% of the population lived in poverty, with 38% of households spending 30% or more on housing, 17% receiving food stamps and 35% at risk of food insecurity. A fifth of Kenwood children live in poverty. The crime rate was still lower than Chicago’s, and 84% of adults report feeling safe there. Fifty-five percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Eight percent of the population in Hyde Park and Kenwood is uninsured; 75% of Hyde Parkers report having consistent primary care, and 87% said it is usually or always easy to get care through their health plan; in Kenwood, 80% and 75%, respectively, said the same. While 67% of Hyde Park pregnant women received adequate prenatal care, 61% of Kenwood women did; 73% of Hyde Parkers reported receiving colorectal cancer screening, but the rate in Kenwood was 56%.

While similar numbers of Hyde Park and Kenwood residents reported not exercising (24% and 26%), smoking (17% and 14%) and eating 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily (35% and 38%), 8% of Hyde Parkers reported drinking pop or sweetened drinks every day while 18% of Kenwood residents said they do.

The top causes of death in Hyde Park are heart disease, cancer, injury, diabetes and accidents, and life expectancy is 82, the same as in the Loop and higher than Chicago’s 77. Infant mortality is 9 deaths per 1,000 births, higher than Chicago’s 7 average deaths. Twenty-two percent of Hyde Parkers have high blood pressure, 12% are obese and 11% have asthma.

In Kenwood, the top killers are cancer, heart disease, injuries, stroke and diabetes. Infant mortality is 10 deaths per 1,000 births, and life expectancy is 79 years. Twenty-eight percent of Kenwood residents have high blood pressure, 32% are obese and 9% are diabetic.

These figures stand in contrast to those in Woodlawn, where the median household income is $25,364 and half of children live in poverty. Only 66% percent of adults report feeling safe there, and violent crime is 56% higher than the city’s average. Thirty percent of Woodlawn residents drink pop or sweetened drinks every day, and 21% smoke. Infant mortality is 11 deaths per 1,000 births, and life expectancy is 75 years. Thirty-eight percent of residents have high blood pressure, 51% are obese, 12% are diabetic and 9% have asthma.