Baltimore is the home base of one of the best hospital systems in the country. So why do so many city residents still get such sub-par healthcare?
A team of reporters spent months interviewing residents of West Baltimore about their experiences with and attitudes about the medical system. What they found was dismaying: Resident’s of Freddie Gray’s Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood regularly reported negative experiences at Baltimore hospitals and clinics–and, unsurprisingly, they also had low levels of trust for such institutions. The statistics affirm their pessimism. Sandtown-Winchester residents have an average life expectancy that’s 10 years lower than the national average.
NPR dug into some of the reasons behind the health disparity:
The gap is more than the cultural distance between lower-income African-Americans and the wealthier practitioners, often of other ethnicities, who treat them, although that’s a part, Wilson said. It’s about insurance that is still unstable, confusing and perceived as expensive despite the health law’s recent expansion of Medicaid for low-income patients.
It’s about a system that still treats too many residents in the most expensive way possible — in crisis visits to the emergency room — rather than keeping people healthy in the community. It’s about having too few primary care doctors addressing everyday needs to change that.
It’s about inadequate transportation to get to appointments and jail stays that cut patients off from family doctors. It’s about avoiding medical institutions often seen in the same light as the justice system that held Freddie Gray when he died: as biased, haughty and dangerous.
Read the whole story here.