Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is Health Equity?
Health equity means everyone has an equal chance to use resources that will help them live a long, healthy life. It focuses on differences in population health that are related to unequal economic and social conditions in specific locations. Achieving health equity requires creating equal opportunities for health by eliminating health disparities, assuring healthy childhood development, preventing and controlling disease and disability, addressing social and emotional health, and working to make the environment healthy.
What is a Health Equity Zone?
The Rhode Island Department of Health, through a state-federal partnership (HRSA and CDC), is collaborating with 10 HEZ community partners throughout Rhode Island. This funding supports innovative place-based approaches to prevent chronic diseases, improve birth outcomes, and improve the social and environmental conditions of RI neighborhoods. Each HEZ project will be implemented over a three to four year period.
Funding will support the development of a community plan of action by municipal leaders, residents, businesses, transportation and community planners, law enforcement, education systems and health systems, among others. Using a collective impact framework these 11 HEZs will look at the factors that drive poor health outcomes and create action plans. This work is data driven and is based on strategies that have been shown to be successful.
What is the Bristol Health Equity Zone (HEZ) project?
The Bristol HEZ Project is a community-wide effort funded by the Rhode Island Department of Health to create innovative approaches that can reduce and manage chronic diseases, promote healthy lifestyles, assure healthy child development, and create environments where healthy choices are easier to make. Bristol HEZ brings together existing organizations, stakeholders, and partners that focus on the health and well-being of the community into a formal, sustainable collaborative. Bristol is fortunate to have the resources of numerous social services and community-based organizations. Currently, these groups are working independently in the areas of public education, social services, recreation, and nutrition without a combined strategy. Bristol HEZ brings them under one umbrella to accomplish more in the area of public health. The Bristol HEZ Collaborative works together to identify the health risks and needs of the Town and moves forward common objectives around health-promoting programs, services, and community design.
Why does Bristol need a HEZ?
A HEZ is an area of the community with higher rates of obesity, illness, injury, chronic disease, or other adverse health outcomes. Identifying a HEZ allows the Town and its partners to focus services, programs, and improvements to individuals or neighborhoods most in need.
Despite the overall increasing household wealth of Bristol residents from 2000 to 2012, there still remains a population living in Bristol with very limited financial means. In 2012, Bristol’s median household income was estimated to be $60,934, representing an increase of 39.5% from 2000 ($58,688, adjusted for inflation). When compared to the county and state, the Town’s 2012 median household income was estimated to be $4,832 higher than the state, but $10,152 lower than Bristol County overall. In 2012, 678 or 7.6% of households had income less than $10,000 and 1,418 or 15.9% had incomes between $10,000 and $24,999. These households have what public agencies define as extremely low income levels, which are incomes at or below 30% of the area’s median income. An additional, 767 households had very low income levels (incomes between 30% and 50% of the area’s median income). The total number of households within these lower income categories was 2,863 or 32.1% of all Bristol households - a significant amount that will affect the general housing, nutrition, and educational needs of the community.
In addition to this census data, all of the 650 children who participate in the Town’s summer recreation program are eligible and participate in the free healthy lunch program through the Department of Education. Bristol also has a large ethnic population of Portuguese residents, approximately 29% of the population according to Census statistics, who predominately reside in the low-moderate income neighborhood known as the “Mosaico” neighborhood. One of the Town’s challenges is reaching this ethnic community.
Bristol is fortunate to have the resources of numerous social services and community-based organizations. Currently, these groups are working independently in the areas of public education, social services, recreation, and nutrition without a combined strategy. The Bristol HEZ Project will provide the structure for bringing these groups together in a collaborative framework so that more can be accomplished in the area of public health.
How can I get involved in the Bristol HEZ project?
There are many ways to get involved in the Bristol HEZ Project. One way to stay informed is by visiting the project website frequently. Here, you will find a calendar of events, past presentations and graphics, and any findings identified from outreach efforts.