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Close to Home Report Takes on New Life at The Franklin Institute

Image of Close to Home report maps at the Franklin Institute Giant heart exhibit

November 18, 2019

On November 16th, the Giant Heart exhibit within the Franklin Institute reopens to include new, revised imagery and information from a report published in August by the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University and the City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

The report, Close to Home: The Health of Philadelphia’s Neighborhoods, offers extensive new insights into the health of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. Despite overall progress in recent years, Philadelphia residents live with higher rates of mortality and chronic disease than residents of other major cities. For example, according to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s Community Health Assessment, among counties that contain the nation’s largest cities, Philadelphia has higher rates of premature death, infant and child mortality, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, HIV/AIDS, and homicide than other major cities. Most importantly, these rates are unequal across the city with some neighborhoods having very good health while others share a disproportionate burden of disease.

Using methods modeled after the national County Health Rankings, the report provides rankings, by neighborhood, for both health factors and health outcomes. It leverages Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 500 Cities data by pairing it with local and census information. Through these rankings, the report highlights the behavioral, clinical, environmental, social and economic determinants, such as access to healthy foods, smoking, income, housing-cost burden, and education that underly neighborhood health disparities across the city.

The Franklin Institute decided to use this vast trove of data in one of their long running exhibitions, The Giant Heart. Using information from the Close to Home report, they looked at three factors related to heart health: locations of supermarkets that provide access to healthy foods, neighborhood walkability, and smoking rates among adults. The exhibit is more than 60 years old and has been revised with new stories, information and maps to display the key factors for heart health in Philadelphia neighborhoods.

The Close to Home neighborhood health rankings provide key insights into community health and well-being and can serve as a baseline for improving health in the future. “We are enthusiastic to see data from our report being reshaped and translated into the Giant Heart exhibit. It is an exciting opportunity to show visitors of all ages the importance of neighborhoods for shaping health and disparities,” said Jana Hirsch, PhD, MES, assistant research professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Drexel Urban Health Collaborative.

To learn more about the Giant Heart exhibit, you can visit The Franklin Institute webpage. To learn more about the Close to Home report, you can visit the Philadelphia Health Ranking’s webpage.