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Minority neighborhoods in Wyandotte County facing alarming number of health problems

Poor Black and Hispanic neighbor have worst issues
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Posted at 7:52 PM, Nov 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-28 20:52:02-05
High infant deaths, heart disease and cancer rates are just a few of the problems highlighted in a troubling new report on the health of Wyandotte County residents.
 
Researchers at Ohio State University looked at where the worst problems are occurring.
 
They found up to 45 percent of the people living in the Wyandotte County neighborhoods of greatest concern are children.
 
 
"We don't have that healthy living which brings on not so good health," said Margaret Pender.
 
Margaret has lived in Wyandotte County her whole life.
 
She says insurance issues made her husband cut back on medicine and doctors visits nearly resulting in his death.
 
Margaret also says she and her daughter have also had health and health access issues.
 
She's not alone.
 
A new report shows that people suffering from the worst health issues are living in areas that were targeted for investment pull-back -- called redlining -- eight decades ago. 
 
Maps show people who live in those areas are primarily Black and Hispanic.
 
"We think there's a connection there and we feel like there has to be cause for alarm," said Jerry Jones, Executive Director of the Community Health Council of Wyandotte County.
 
That organization commissioned the study.
 
The findings include nearly half of Wyandotte County homes have the potential for lead poisoning.
 
Lead poisoning can affect brain development in children.
 
The study also found the average age of death ranges from 59 to 62 years in some inner Kansas City, Kan. neighborhoods compared to 71 to 81 years just a few miles away.
 
Mostly black neighborhoods had the highest infant mortality rate of 11.6 deaths per 1000 live births.
 
 
That figure is more than double white neighborhoods rate in Wyandotte County and among the worst rate in the whole country.
 
"We now have to be about the business of using policy to right those wrongs," Jones said.
 
"People in those red lined areas live without hope," Margaret said.
 
While the report explains the problems, it doesn't say how to fix them.
 
But there have been some steps in that direction.
 
For example, there's a new fetal-infant mortality review team through the Wyandotte County Health Department to address that issue.
 
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Andy Alcock can be reached at anderson.alcock@kshb.com.

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