A community makes a difference in providing effective health care
Two poor communities have contrasting approaches to healthcare. One takes a collaborative approach to medicine, creating better outcomes for residents receiving treatment.
By Noam N. Levey
Photography, video by Carolyn Cole
March 9, 2014
BATON ROUGE, La. — Patients begin lining up outside Capitol City Family Health Center before the doors open at 7:30 a.m.
The clinic, on a ragged stretch of the boulevard that separates the black and white sections of town, is a refuge for thousands of this old southern capital’s poorest and sickest residents. They come seeking relief from diabetes, heart disease and other debilitating illnesses.
Twelve hundred miles up the Mississippi River, in the shadow of a public housing tower in St. Paul, Minn., the waiting room at the Open Cities Health Center also fills daily with the city’s poorest.
But the patients in Minnesota receive a very different kind of care, which leads to very different outcomes. They are more likely to get recommended checkups and cancer screenings. If very ill, they can usually see specialists. Their doctors rely on sophisticated data to track results.
Diabetics at the St. Paul clinic are twice as likely as those in Baton Rouge to have their blood sugar under control. That can slow the onset of more serious problems such as kidney failure and blindness.
Young patients with asthma also benefit from Minnesota’s more comprehensive medical system. Asthmatic children in the state’s poorest neighborhoods are 37% less likely than those in Louisiana to end up in a hospital.