Areas in Chesapeake have a 12-year difference in life expectancy


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — The Director of the Chesapeake Health Department is working to bring awareness to some of the health concerns in Chesapeake.

“I want us to have a better population, a healthier population, and the only way we can do that is by bringing together resources in a collaborative effort,” said Dr. Nancy Welch. 

Last week, 10 On Your Side told you about the South Norfolk Civic League and how members are hoping to see more pharmacies and urgent cares in their area.

PREVIOUS: South Norfolk residents need better access to health care, civic league says

Welch says access to medical care plays an important part in health.

According to a pie chart she shared with 10 On Your Side, it makes up 10 percent, but there are also other factors, like social and economic factors, health behaviors, environment and genetics that are also important.

She says using these factors a health opportunity index, also called an HOI, is used to measure the social determinants of health.

“A low HOI means you have a low opportunity for health, a high HOI means you have a high opportunity for health,” she said.

She gave an example of what it’s like sometimes for people in an area with a low health opportunity.

“The grocery stores were two plus miles away so if you have a car you’re trying to share, or you have a car that doesn’t work well you have to depend on a bus, or have a child in the stroller, it’s kind of hard to get two miles away,” said Dr. Welch.

She says areas with low and high HOIs were mapped out and there is a 12-year difference in life expectancy.

“The bigger the circle, the longer the life expectancy. The smaller the circle, the shorter the life expectancy. Where do you see the small circles? South Norfolk.” 

Welch says they started a non-profit called Healthy Chesapeake to continue to work towards goals of a healthier city.

“We are working on how we can bring in more case management, more home visitation, more education, more teaching to cook, more oversight that’s more convenient for people who have chronic diseases,” she said.

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