It was an amazing a-ha moment. We kind of blinked at each other, and then simultaneously said ‘We got to do something.’ – Dr. Nancy Hardt, University of Florida
This week on National Public Radio’s (NPR) All Things Considered was a story of what happened when Dr. Nancy Hardt, an OB-GYN, used data from Medicaid birth records to see where children were born into poverty in Gainesville, FL to try and identify ways to intervene and prevent poor childhood health outcomes. She was surprised to see a 1 square mile high-density ‘hot spot’ of births in dark blue appear in her map above. Dr. Hardt was encouraged to share her map with Sheriff Sadie Darnell, who pulled out a map of her own of Gainesville.
Sheriff Darnell’s map showed an exact overlay with the ‘hot spot’ on Dr. Hardt’s map of the highest crime rates in the city. By visiting the area they identified many things in the community that were barriers to good health including hunger, substandard housing, and a lack of medical care facilities – the closest location for uninsured patients was a 2 hour bus ride each way to the county health department. You’ll want to check out the rest of A Sheriff and A Doctor Team Up to Map Childhood Trauma to learn more about a mobile health clinic, what data from additional maps showed, and other steps they have taken since to help improve health outcomes for the community.
This story is the latest from the NPR series What Shapes Health, which was inspired in response to a recent Robert Wood Johnson Foundation poll about what beliefs and concerns Americans have regarding health. You can read an overview and download the full report of their results at http://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2015/01/what-shapes-health.html.