The Health and Life Outcomes of De Facto Segregation

A photo of the Baltimore National Aquarium taken July 3, 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My maternal family’s roots have been planted in Baltimore for many generations. I grew up believing that Baltimore is at the center of the universe and my love for this city reflects my reverence for my hometown’s unique attributes.

Despite the crack epidemic hitting the city pretty hard, making drug pushers and addicts a mainstay of my commute to school, the abandoned row houses leaving a blight on the landscape, and gentrification which led to the demolition of public housing units, I still love Baltimore. …read more

Give Thanks and Raise Your Voice for Health Equity

For many Americans, Thanksgiving is synonymous with family and food. For me, it is a reminder of one Thanksgiving in particular when my aunt began experiencing shortness of breath and went to the emergency room. Doctors did a series of tests and then sent her home.

Photo of Thanksgiving day dinner. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few days later she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Cancer. It was a shock to the whole family, but none of us felt that it would be a death sentence. Perhaps we were optimistic at best or disillusioned at worst. We went on and …read more

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Taking the Pulse of Baltimore’s Neighborhoods

Some of the more upscale rowhouses in Baltimore, like these brightly painted homes in Charles Village, have complete porches instead of stoops (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How do you get to really know a neighborhood? You can walk around, talk to the people who live there, and interact with the physical spaces.

But what if you want to dive beneath the surface and delve into the details? The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance-Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore (BNIA-JFI) has collected and compiled data on 55 Community Statistical Areas (their term for neighborhoods) in Baltimore, measuring 150 different data …read more

Pushing Policy? Taking on Goliath? Try this Recipe for Success

Photo Credit: MDGovPics

In January, the Institute of Medicine released a study that compared American health care outcomes to other industrialized countries. The realities were shocking. Despite spending far more per capita on health care than any other nation, the data was abundantly clear – life for many Americans has become increasingly brutish and comparatively short.

Johns Hopkins Symposium on the Social Determinants of Health, academics, community leaders, and public officials convened to discuss the intersection of housing, education, social, and health policies on overall health outcomes.

One optimistic takeaway from the symposium is that almost all of our …read more

Addressing the Social Determinants of Health

I’ve had the opportunity to work in both the health and social service fields, so my interest was piqued when I learned about the 2nd Annual Symposium on the Social Determinants of Health, sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute. The agenda promised a diverse range of topics, from concrete policies and programs to research and theory on social capital, racism and poverty. And, the symposium did not disappoint.

Thirty speakers observed the importance of safe housing, education, a strong social network, access to healthy foods and quality health care to overall health outcomes. Throughout the conference, academics, practitioners, …read more

Health by Design

Making Health Workshop (Photo credit: BMW Guggenheim Lab)

The spaces in which we inhabit can have a long term impact on how we develop, the choices we make, the way that we socialize, and how healthy we are. The built environment can promote active living, or not. It can create good air quality, or not. It can open the opportunity for people to make healthy food choices, or not. Planning and design provide a meaningful and rich opportunity to create healthy communities, or not.

Integrated planning is an approach to our built environment that interweaves public health considerations (physical …read more