Archive: October, 2011
Bringing some dried goat skin back from your trip to Haiti? Not on Jennifer Torres’ watch.
Torres is the assistant officer in charge of the CDC Quarantine Station at Philadelphia International Airport. And Haitian goat skin, she explained, could contain anthrax (yes, anthrax develops naturally, not just in the labs of terrorists).
We spoke to Torres to find out what the quarantine station does, and what measures are in place to keep dangerous communicable diseases from entering the Philadelphia area.
Philadelphia is a great, progressive, world-class city on the rise. It is a birthplace of American democracy, medicine, and science. It fields some of the best teams in sports, including the Phillies, who had one of the best pitching rotations in the history of baseball (a lot of good that did). And it serves the best cheesesteaks in all the land.
But did you also know that Philadelphia has the unfortunate distinction of being No. 1 in poverty? That’s right, Philadelphia is the poorest big city in the United States — a whopping 27 percent of its population and more than one-third of its children live below the federal poverty level. These are extraordinary numbers, and the impact on poor children is devastating. In Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District, which cuts through some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, half of residents struggle to purchase enough food to meet their basic needs, a story that the Inquirer told in a series of articles last year. In our city of seeming abundance, kids are going to bed hungry and undernourished every night — a situation that has serious consequences for physical and cognitive development.
How could we let this happen? After all, it’s yesterday’s news that poverty has a devastating impact on both individual and population health.
Look around you. Public health is everywhere. It’s been a part of your life since you were born (and way before), and you might not even know it.
Let’s start with basic disease prevention. You’ve likely had multiple vaccines against a slew of once-deadly and now preventable diseases including polio, diphtheria, and smallpox (if you are in your 40s). In fact, the vaccine campaign against smallpox was so effective that by the 1970s the disease was eradicated from the planet and survives only in highly secure government laboratories in the United States and Russia.
This is public health.
Here are sources of statistics - local, national, global - on everything from injuries to risky behavior, spending, and insurance coverage, compiled by The Public's Health.
- Philadelphia Department of Public Health: Philadelphia Vital Statistics: A variety of statistics and reports on the city’s health.
- Pennsylvania Department of Health statistics: Same as above, but for the whole Commonwealth.
- New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services statistics: Ditto, for the state.
- PHMC Community Health Data Base data findings: Data from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey, a telephone-based health survey conducted in the Philadelphia region since 1983.
- CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS): National, state, and city data on health behaviors and health status obtained through a large telephone-based survey.
- CDC Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS): National, state, and city data on the health behaviors of youth in grades 9-12 obtained through a large school-based survey.
- CDC Injury Prevention & Control: Data & Statistics: Data on violent deaths and other fatal/non-fatal injuries.
- CDC National Vital Statistics System: Data on births, deaths, and events in between.
- CDC Historical Vital Statistics, 1900-1998: Same as above, but for back in the day.
- USDHHS Community Health Status Indicators: Gateway to a range and national, state, and county health data.
- USDHHS Office of Women's Health, Quick Health Data Online: Compiles a range of data on disease incidence, prevalence, health care service utilization, and other health-related events.
- CMS National Health Expenditure Data: Historical data and future projects of how, and how much, money is spent on health care in the U.S.
- AHRQ Medical Expenditure Panel Survey: Data from a large survey on health care utilization and insurance coverage.
- Kaiser State Health Facts: State-level data on a range of indicators relating to health insurance, health care utilization, and disease prevalence/incidence.
- RWJF U.S. County Health Ranking: Allows for counties to be ranked and compared across different indicators of population health.
Statistical resources on some of the underlying factors - social, economic, political - that shape population health, compiled by The Public's Health.
- Metropolitan Philadelphia Indicators Project: A plethora of data on housing, education, civic participation, land use, and a range of other topics. Mapping tools are available.
- Philadelphia Neighborhood Information System: A web-based information system which allows for the mapping of community indicators.
- PEW Philadelphia Research Initiative Data Library: Data on the finances, services, safety, and welfare of the City.
County and state agencies throughout the region offer services ranging from, in most cases, vaccination clinics to restaurant inspection databases. Behavioral health, aging, medical examiner and other county departments may be part of health or linked to it.
- Philadelphia Department of Public Health
- Bucks County Department of Health & Human Services
- Chester County Department of Health
- Delaware County Department of Intercommmunity Health Coordination (also see state health center)
- Montgomery County Department of Health
- State of Pennsylvania Department of Health (responsible for many public health issues in Delaware County and in the majority of counties statewide outside the southeast)
Health center locaters, emergency contacts, hospital comparison tools and other resources, compiled by The Public's Health:
- HRSA Federally Qualified Health Center locator: Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) provide preventive services and health care regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. Fees are based on income so that patients pay what they can afford. This website identifies the nearest FQHC given your zip code. It includes:
- Philadelphia City Health Centers: Similar to above (and actually, officially known as “FQHC Look-Alikes”), but operated by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health for city residents.
- Philadelphia Office of Food Protection: Information on food safety policies and complaint procedures for the City.
- DBHIDS Emergency Contacts: Phone numbers for suicide prevention/crisis hotlines and other emergency mental health services.
- Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention: Information about health hazards associated with lead and resources to take action.
- Flu.Gov Vaccine Locator: Identifies where you can get a flu vaccine given your zip code.
- USDHHS Hospital Compare: Uses Medicare data to allow users compare to quality of care delivered at different hospitals.
Is a solid source of data missing from this list? Let us know and we'll look into it.
More resources are at The Public's Health blog.