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Bridgeport CT Featured

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Introduction

Understanding the community is an important step in healthcare planning as it enables the planner to understand the community’s priorities, the community’s capabilities on which to build on, and areas of collaborations (The Primary Care Action Group, 2013). The paper focuses on analyzing the Bridgeport community with the intent of identifying priority health needs. Specifically, the paper has explores the demographic and epidemiological data and establishes the health priorities in this community.

Community

Bridgeport is the largest city in the state of Connecticut in terms of the human population. The city is situated in Fairfield County at the mouth of the Pequannock River and has a human population of 144, 229. The community’s political structure is characterized by the mayor council system headed by the mayor. The mayor is voted by the entire city.  The Bridgeport community has two major hospitals, St. Vincent’s Medical Center and Bridgeport Hospital. The community also has an elderly and homeless housing unit, which was formerly the Park City Hospital. The community economy is mainly driven by the service sector with the two hospitals being the largest employers. The People’s United Bank is the third largest employer while the University of Bridgeport is the fourth largest. Construction is also a major industry within the community (City Data, 2013).

The median household income within Bridgeport community is $35, 379, which is significantly lower than the median household income of the state of Connecticut, $65,753 and the national average of $ 51,914 (City Data, 2013). Approximately 19.8% of people above the age of 25 years are unemployed. The community has a relatively well developed education system. The public school system comprises of two alternative programs, three comprehensive high schools, and 30 elementary schools. The community is also home to several private and religious schools. The community is also served by four higher education institutions. For people above 25 years, 71.5% have high school diploma, 13.6% have a Bachelor’s degree or higher while 5.1% have post graduate degree (City Data, 2013).

Demographic and Epidemiological Data

Bridgeport is a multiethnic city as 42.1% of the population is made up of Hispanic, 31.7% of African Americans, 20% of whites, 3.9% of Asian American, 1.6% of two or more races, and 0.4 of other races. Females are the majority constituting 51.5% of the population while with males constituting 48.5% of the population. The city is also multigenerational. The unemployment rate within the community is 12.2 %, which is higher than the state average of 8.4%. The Bridgeport region has one of the highest inequality gaps in the country. It is estimated that 25.7% of the city residents live in poverty. The rate is a higher among African American, 32%, and Hispanic Americans, 28.4% (City Data, 2013). Education attainment is also relatively low despite the excellent education system. It is estimated that only 12% of adults within the Bridgeport city have attained college level education. The community also has the highest high school dropout rates in the state (Primary Care Action Group, 2013) Housing is expensive in many parts of the city. The cost of living in Bridgeport is 135.4, which is higher than the countrywide cost of living of 100.Transport is not a major concern among the community as the city is well served by various modes of transports. This means that the community can easily access healthcare facilities. Rate of crime with the community is significantly higher than the national rate. It is estimated that the city had 80.3 rape cases per 100,000 people, in 2011 (City Data, 2013).  This is the highest rate since 1999.

There are significant concerns over the community physical activities, eating habits, and obesity rates. The Primary Care Action Group (2013) described Bridgeport as a “food desert” meaning that residents find challenges in obtaining healthy and fresh foods. It has also been noted that opportunities for physical activities are not available to all communities. Poor members of the community have limited access to physical activities. Security concerns also limit residents from using playgrounds and parks. Consequently, obesity has emerged as serious health issue within the community. Statistics reveals that 57% of community members meant the criterion for overweight as compared to the national average of 35.7% (Center for Disease Control, 2013). High rates obesity has also led to an increase in chronic diseases. It was established that heart disease and cancer were the leading cause of death in Bridgeport, in 2012.

Another serious health concern is substance use and abuse. A study conducted by the Primary Care Action Group (2013) revealed a rise in the consumption of alcohol and prescription drugs with the Bridgeport community. The number of adults involved in Binge drinking was higher than the state. In 2011, it is estimated that 25.2% of youths between 9th and 12th grade had used marijuana once or more in the past 12 months. This marijuana consumption rate is higher that the state average of 24.1% and national average of 23.1% (Primary Care Action Group, 2013). Injury was the third primary cause of death in Bridgeport and is closely linked to the high rates of substance use and the high rates of crime within the community.

Other serious health concerns with the community are mental illness, which are also associated with substance use, and digestive disease. The study by the Primary Care Action Group (2013) reported rising cases of depression, attempted suicides and other forms of mental illness within the community. In 2012, the attempted suicide rate among high school students was 16.9%, which is higher than the national average of 7.8%. Teenage pregnancy is also a critical health concern in the community. In 2012, teenage births were estimated at 38 per 1000 live births as compared to the national average of 13 per 1000 live births (Primary Care Action Group, 2013). The community has a high rate of sexually transmitted infections and other communicable diseases. It is estimated that the rates of syphilis infections in the city is three times higher than the state average while the rates of Chlamydia and gonorrhea are twice as high as the state average.   

Problem

The health problem that is of priority concern in the Bridgeport Community is obesity. It estimated that the 57% of community members meet the overweight criterion as compared to the countrywide rate of 35.7%. The high rate of obesity is attributed to various factors including limited access to physical activity opportunity and limited access to healthy foods. This health problem has a severe impact on the community including loss of life. It has been ascertained that the leading causes of death in this community are heart illness and cancer. These chronic illnesses are closely linked to obesity (Antlanti, Wittert & Lange, 2009). Therefore, addressing this problem will reduce mortality rate within the community.  

Obesity is also associated with significant economic costs. First, obesity imposes significant economic burden on the local economic due to high mortality, morbidity, social exclusion and discrimination rates (McCormick & Stone, 2006). Obese people are likely to suffer from chronic illness thus leading to loss of productivity due to death, social exclusion and discrimination. In addition, obesity imposes cost associated with treating chronic illness both to families and the local economy. The health-insurance cost of obesity in the United States is estimated at $ 7.7 billion (Hammond & Levine, 2010). Therefore, addressing this problem will reduce the economic costs associated to the problem.

The choice is in line with the Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity objective in the Healthy People 2020. Healthy People is a national health program that establishes 10 year agenda that will lead to improvement in the Nation’s health. The program establishes national objectives that the state needs to realize in order to achieve the vision of having a society in which lead healthy lives and live long (Healthy People, 2013).  The Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity is concerned with promoting health by reducing chronic diseases that are associated with diet and weight.

Summary

            Obesity is a serious health concern in the Bridgeport City Community. It is estimated that 57% of the community members are overweight (The Primary Care Action Group, 2013). This rate is extensively higher than the countrywide rate of 35.7 %. Obesity has severe impacts on the community including high mortality rates and economic costs. Members from low social-economic groups are the most severely affected by obesity. This health problem is attributed to various factors including limited access to physical activity opportunities, limited access to healthy foods, poverty, and many others. 

References

Antlanti, E. Wittert, A. & Lange, K. (2009). Chronic Disease Trends due to Excess Body Weight. Obesity Reviews. 7 (2): 7- 13

City Data (2013). Bridgeport, Connecticut. Retrieved from http://www.city-data.com/city/Bridgeport-Connecticut.html

Hammond, R. & Levine, R. (2010). The Economic Impact of Obesity in the United States. Targets and Therapy. 10 (3): 285- 295

Healthy People (2013). Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity. Retrieved from http://healthypeople.gov/2020/lhi/nutrition.aspx?tab=data

McCormick, B. & Stone, I. (2006). Economic Costs of Obesity and the Case for Government Intervention. Obesity Review. 8 (1): 161- 164

The Center for Disease Control (2013). Adult Obesity Facts. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

The Primary Care Action Group (2013). Greater Bridgeport, CT Community Health Assessment. Retrieved from http://www2.bridgeporthospital.org/portals/12/media/Greater_Bridgeport_Community_Health_Assessment_2013.pdf

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