Place Matters

Being honest, I didn’t do too well on the health equity quiz. I believe i got a 4/10. I was shocked because I would think that our life expectancies would be ranked higher than 29th place, especially because on average the U.S. spends twice as much on health care per person than other countries do. I think this is because Americans as a whole have such high expectations for their nation, especially its health care system,  that it’s such a shock to find out that the U.S. isn’t the country with the highest life expectancy. I think my poor grade came from me being naive about the quality of health in other countries.

The episode I watched was “Place Matters’ and in this episode they covered two cities: Richmond, California and High point, Seattle. This episode proved that where you come from and what you’re exposed to, such as violence, stress, and poor living conditions can really affect the health of an individual. In Richmond, a male resident is suffering from heart disease and had a major heart attack at a young age of 49. Events in his life and where he lives has a lot to do with his low health. When his daughter was 15, she was shot and killed in their doorway. Exposure to this kind of violence can have a physiological effect on residents of that neighborhood, especially children. Also, being constantly worried and stressed over bills has taken a physical toll on him. These stresses are due to him living in an impoverished area where he can’t make enough money to pay his bills. Heading north to High Point, Seattle, the low class neighborhood has received federal grants to improve the quality of living with the long term goal of increasing resident health. New houses were built and neighborhoods made more friendly and safe. The main thing here is the new houses. Before the grant, it was considered normal for children to have asthma from exposure to mold and dust particles. This would mean 2-3 thousand dollars being spent per year in emergency room bills per child. The new homes aimed to fix this, and after the renovation many children got sick less and the emergency bills declined.

These case studies prove that genetics aren’t the only thing related to health issues. Location and exposure to stress, worry, violence and poverty led to heart disease for the man in Richmond, while increased standard of living led to increased health in High Point, Seattle. Genetics aren’t the only thing one needs to look at while assessing health.


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Matt Waldrop says:

    Hi Katie,

    The health quiz was pretty eye opening and I would be surprised if anybody actually did well on it. I thought your case study was very interesting because as a society, we are sometimes ignorant to the health of others by what we do the environment. It is clear the environment had a SERIOUS effect on that man’s health, but it would also be interesting to find out that man’s family history just to see if he was predisposed to any health threats. I have always felt strongly that our genes in combination with our environment play out our bodies health over time. I believe a political solution in addition to building the new homes would be to ensure the people staying there are being productive with either school or a job. The reason for this is if these homes are built but the people staying in them are not productive members of society, then the quality of living for these people will likely not be very high. This could cause the residents bad health, the homes to deteriorate in value and be a waste of time and resources. Hopefully this will allow the residents to live a less stressful life, and in turn their health will improve for the better.

  2. Alexis Snyder says:

    Like you have pointed out, and what I also think the video did an excellent job on, is highlighting the dire effects a persons’ living condition can have on their health. That being said, especially in regards to areas like Richmond, low income areas put the people living there in to a situation they cannot pull themselves out of. The video had mentioned that people of Richmond put 30 percent of their income to their housing and the poverty tax makes things like food, cars, etc. more expensive in low income areas than more affluent areas. That is why a solution should be a combination of social, political and economical strategies. Like in Highpoint, the federal government should step in and renovate Richmond. As mentioned in the video, it is primarily up to them because private development will not invest in a plan located in an area with a reputation like Richmond. Also, since Richmond has access to shipping and water, I feel the government could really bring opportunity back to the city through that once again. In order to do so however, the community would have to pull together and want this change and doctors should bring up studies that show the influence of poor living conditions on health.

    Making this effort would start to bring back hope for a better life for the people of Richmond. It is painfully sad to see that a country like America has these situations going on with our people when we do spend so much on healthcare and we are a wealthy nation. However, having the government step in on such a heavy project would most likely receive the backlash of people who oppose government intervention. A move like helping Richmond could be seen as the government overly asserting its power and bring about absurd beliefs like socialism.

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