North Philadelphia is the community that Esperanza Health Center calls home. We serve the residents of many neighborhoods in the northern part of the city, including Upper Kensington, Fairhill/St. Hugh, Harrowgate, Hunting Park, Feltonville and Juniata Park. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 125,000 people live here, and three-quarters (74%) of the population are either Latino or African-American. It’s one of the largest and most densely-populated communities in Philadelphia.
Our community is vibrant and full of life, and has a rich history. The people of this community are located close to one another, and this brings about a close-knit community feel. It’s a multi-generational community, with many children. In the summer, streets are full of block parties where children can play freely in the streets, without car traffic, and neighbors celebrate with each other. Urban gardens spring up on abandoned lots as the people of the community take the initiative to bring fresh food to their neighbors, and in the small yards in front of houses, as neighbors beautify their community, house by house. Churches and other community groups get together to organize their neighborhoods to better their streets. And in the winter, individuals can be seen shoveling the snow from sidewalks that are not their own, showing kindness to those who are in need.
Yet, there are many challenges facing residents of our community. It is one of the most economically-disadvantaged communities in the city and nation, as nearly 70 percent of households have incomes at or below 200% of the Federal poverty level. There are also significant health disparities that face individuals in our community, including higher than average rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, and sexually-transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDS. Our community has been designated by the Federal government as both a medically-underserved area (MUA) and a health professional shortage area (HPSA), with a low number of primary care providers relative to the population. Economic, cultural and/or linguistic barriers to primary medical care services all contribute to the designation as a medically-underserved community. An estimated 19 percent of the population in the five zip code region of our community has no health insurance.
Esperanza Health Center is committed to reducing these health disparities and removing these barriers. Today, 27 clinical providers serve at Esperanza to increase access to medical care for this medically-underserved community. Our doors are open to all who seek care, and we’re reaching out through new initiatives to work together with families, neighbors, churches and others in our community in promoting health and wholeness.