"Hopefully, there is enough data to push forward with much-needed changes in Brooklyn," said Dr. Richard Becker, president and CEO of Brooklyn Hospital Center. "We still have extremely fragmented and uncoordinated care in Brooklyn. When hospitals and community providers become better aligned, that is when we can have better health outcomes."
About 51% of 644 residents surveyed felt they had limited access to health care, with such barriers as long waits before and during appointments, lack of insurance and the cost of care. Many people cited lack of access to dental care and mental health services. When asked which health care services households had difficulty accessing in their neighborhood, 100% of respondents said a dentist.
The most common illnesses or health conditions among those surveyed were high blood pressure/hypertension (24.8%), asthma (19.9%); diabetes (15.7%); and hearing or vision problems (15.2%).
Community needs assessments give researchers a better understanding of medically underserved neighborhoods through health care usage patterns, census information and other data.
What makes the study released Wednesday somewhat different is that it relies on field surveys and focus groups to capture the voices of community residents. Brooklynites living within 15 Brooklyn ZIP codes completed more than 600 surveys, and 79 residents participated in nine focus groups that were otherwise underrepresented in the survey sample.
The results help bring to life some of the hard data gathered by the researchers. "Low-income communities need more educational services, preventing obesity because obesity is affecting our communities," wrote one person surveyed.
"I live in Bed-Stuy, and they do not make you feel comfortable," wrote another. "You have to wait too long. The doctors treat you as if you are just another number."
Ngozi Moses, executive director of the Brooklyn Perinatal Network, was the principal investigator, assisted by co-leaders Judy Wessler, the former executive director of the Commission on the Public's Health System, and Shena Elrington, director of health justice at the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.
"The Need for Caring in North and Central Brooklyn: A Community Health Needs Assessment" is available online.
The findings, submitted to state health officials in March, will be used to guide policy makers on the services needed in neighborhoods that will be directly affected by upcoming changes in Brooklyn's health care delivery system.
"Close or consolidate? Health study paints a picture" originally appeared on Crain's New York Business.