WEST ENGLEWOOD — A recent citywide health survey showed drastic disparities between West Englewood residents and those in other parts of the city.
The Sinai Community Health Survey, from the Sinai Urban Health Institute, looked at more than 1,900 people living in nine neighborhoods around the city: Chicago Lawn, Gage Park, Hermosa, Humboldt Park, North Lawndale, Norwood Park, South Lawndale, West Englewood and a portion of West Town (west of Western Avenue).
The survey found residents in eight neighborhoods lagged behind national standards in a "wide range of health problems and risk factors."
"This puts to print things we already know in our community and helps us highlight areas that need to be addressed both through local dollars and investment," said Ald. Raymond Lopez, whose 15th Ward includes West Englewood and Gage Park.
He blamed the state's budget impasse, saying it hurts everyone, but he cited the root problem as the lack of jobs.
"While we can rely on additional funds, we also have to look at root causes, which are unemployment and access to jobs that pay living wages where people can support their family and move forward so they're not living poverty," he said.
"This shows that no matter the community, many of us have issues on these topics," Lopez said. "These are things that are being felt from all corners of Chicago, and hopefully it gives us a better opportunity to start addressing them together, as opposed to simply saying that’s a West Englewood issue, or Humboldt park issue. No, these are Chicago issues."
Rodney Johnson has lived in West Englewood since 1965. He'll graduate from the University of Illinois-Chicago in the spring with a degree in public health. As a member of the Resident Association of Greater Englewood and someone who's a part of the Englewood Quality of Life Plan Health and Wellness Committee, he's invested in the community he grew up in, he said.
The health survey was very thorough, he said.
"I liked the findings because it really got down to the neighborhood level and it really addressed some of the [health] issues that concern West Englewood," he said.
Obesity and asthma are major health concerns in the community, he said, but people aren't always looking at those issues, he said.
"They look at gang violence as the big issue, but those health issues cause early death and lead to other diseases," Johnson said.
That committee is working on ways to get into the community this year and listen to people's concerns around health and wellness, he said.
Some 38 percent of West Englewood men and 44 percent of women said they were in poor or fair health. In nearby Chicago Lawn, about a third of men and women said they were in poor or fair health. And in Gage Park, 27 percent of men and 43 percent of women felt that way.
Those figures compare with 12 percent of men and 13 percent of women nationally.
In West Englewood — like North Lawndale, Humboldt, Park, Chicago Lawn, and Gage Park — more than half of women were obese. In all the neighborhoods, at least 50 percent of non-Hispanic Black women and women of Puerto Rican origin were obese.
In West Englewood, 22 percent, or more than 1 in 5 adults, had asthma. But the rate in nearby Chicago Lawn was only one-third of that, 8 percent.
More than 1 in 10 American adults live with heart disease, which includes several heart conditions including coronary heart disease and heart attacks. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for adults in the United States.
One in 6 adults in West Englewood had been diagnosed with heart disease. In West Englewood and North Lawndale, nearly half of women had been diagnosed with high blood pressure.
In the nine communities surveyed, the prevalence of diagnosed heart disease ranged from a high of 17 percent in West Englewood to a low of 3 percent in Gage Park.
PREVALENCE OF HEART DISEASE:
"This study confirms that the Greater Englewood community has some work to do in dealing with health disparities in our community," said Perry Gunn, executive director of Teamwork Englewood, a consortium of organizations serving the neighborhood. "If we do not get a handle on educating the neighborhood about how to effectively deal with these health issues, we are going to continue to lag behind our neighbors.
"We must do a better job at educating our neighbors about the food they put into their bodies, the diets we maintain, exercising and going to the doctor on a regular basis," Gunn said. "We are reaching some critical health numbers in our community, and if we do not tackle these issues head on, things are going to get out of control."
A big problem: smoking. More than half of men in West Englewood are smokers, while 47 percent of woman use tobacco.