- What are we doing?
- What is the issue?
- What is causing the gap?
West Side United believes that four impact areas – Economic Vitality, Education, Health & Healthcare and Neighborhood & Physical Environment – are the keys to reduce the life expectancy gap between downtown and the West Side of Chicago.
Since 2017, we have made an impact across the board, including a few examples below:
West Side United and its partners identified 5 causes of death that explain nearly 70% of the life expectancy gap. While each neighborhood is different, these drivers include some of the greatest health needs on the West Side. Inequities in healthcare, education, economic opportunity, and the physical environment contribute to worse outcomes across these drivers.
Cardio metabolic disease includes conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Specifically, heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S. and is also the greatest driver of the life expectancy gap in most West Side neighborhoods. Heart disease deaths account for up to 3 years of lower life expectancy among West Side residents, and the gap increases when other cardio metabolic conditions are accounted for as well. To track our progress, we are monitoring the death rate by neighborhood for coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. We are also monitoring diabetes- and cardiovascular disease-related hospitalizations.
Infant and maternal mortality are urgent concerns across several West Side neighborhoods. To improve health outcomes for West Side residents from the very start, we need to prioritize maternal and infant health. To track our progress, we are monitoring infant mortality, preterm births, and low birth weight by neighborhood.
Although the Chicago-wide homicide rate has decreased in recent years, the difference in between neighborhoods with the highest and lowest rates increased by 10 percent. Homicides contribute to the life expectancy gap and undermine other aspects of individual and community wellbeing. To track our progress, we are monitoring the death rate by neighborhood for homicides and gun-related homicides.
The opioid crisis is a major health concern in West Side neighborhoods, with some of the highest opioid overdose death rates across Chicago. To track our progress, we are monitoring the drug overdose death rate and drug-related hospitalizations by neighborhood.
Cancer is the second leading cause of the life expectancy gap for many West Side neighborhoods. To track our progress, we are monitoring cancer incidence and the cancer death rate by neighborhood.