Early death is more common among those who live in ZIP codes in Rochester with a lower socioeconomic status, presenters from the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency told members of the medical community during Public Health Grand Rounds March 6 at the University of Rochester Medical Center. The talk was jointly sponsored by the Department of Public Health Sciences and URMC’s Center for Community Health.

Candice Lucas, chair of FLHSA’s African American Health Coalition

Presenting on health disparities were Wade Norwood, chief program officer at FLHSA; Candice Lucas, chair of FLHSA’s African American Health Coalition and director of Community Health Services at the Center for Community Health at URMC; and Gladys Pedraza-Burgos, chair of FLHSA’s Latino Health Coalition and chief operating officer for Ibero-American Action League.

The “What’s Goin’ On” and “Nuestra Salud” reports from these Latino Health and African American Health coalitions say when it comes to health status, place matters. For example, there more than 350 convenience stores in Rochester, which averages out to 10 corner stores per square mile. Many of these stores sell tobacco products but few fruits and vegetables.

Norwood noted that the majority of health outcomes are determined by social and economic factors, health behaviors and the physical environment. He noted that for African Americans in high-need areas of the city of Rochester, cancer and homicide are the top causes of early death.

To get people more active, solutions need to address such factors as crime, safety, transportation and poverty. Solutions outside of doctors’ offices include providing practical support for single parents and those in poverty.

Pedraza-Burgos shared that focus groups are meeting to develop solutions. Asking residents what they need will be an important part of local interventions moving forward, Norwood said.