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Our Communities: Harlem & The Bronx


Harlem is a vibrant community with rich cultural traditions. The vast majority of patients served by the Family Health Center of Harlem reside in Central Harlem and East Harlem, where residents are primarily African American and/or Latino. Approximately one in five residents was born outside of the U.S., adding to the neighborhood’s diversity.

Harlem is also one of the poorest communities in New York City. Low-income and minority residents in Harlem have a critical need for a medical home. Community residents generally self-report poorer health status and more frequent mental distress when compared to New York City as a whole. Residents are also more likely to go without needed care and prescription medications. Other indicators of inadequate primary care access are presented here:

Residents Central Harlem East Harlem New York City
Percent who do not have a regular doctor or other health care provider 19% 20% 19%
Percent who go to ED when sick or need health advice 11% 22% 8%
Percent of adults receiving Medicaid 23% 28% 20%
Percent uninsured 14% 25% 20%

High rates of chronic illness and poor health outcomes in Harlem point to the need for more physicians trained to care for underserved populations. For example, residents in Central and East Harlem experience higher rates of diabetes, obesity, and HIV/AIDS than New York City as a whole, as well as high rates of infant mortality and low-birth weight. Use of preventive services, such as cancer screening, is below national goals, leading to higher rates of morbidity and mortality. The Harlem Residency in Family Medicine seeks both to use and develop the best evidence for successfully addressing these health disparities.

View a photo gallery with more facts and information about Harlem.

The Bronx

The Bronx is the northernmost borough of New York City and is home to a large multi-ethnic community. The Institute’s five health centers in the Bronx are located in the southwest and central regions of the borough and serve residents in these and surrounding areas. The neighborhoods in which the health centers reside have all been designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) and/or Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs). Combined, these areas comprise roughly 500,000 residents, the overwhelming majority of whom are people of color, including African-Americans, Caribbean-Americans, Latinos, and new immigrants from Africa.

The majority of residents are poor, with approximately 40% in each of the Bronx communities served living in poverty. Educational attainment is low; in most communities served, only about half of the adult population has obtained a high school diploma. These communities face significant health problems, including high rates of HIV/AIDS, asthma, diabetes, obesity, and depression, as well as numerous socioeconomic hardships, including poverty, low literacy and education levels, high unemployment, and lack of health insurance. Many do not speak English, or have limited English proficiency.

View a photo gallery with more facts and information about The Bronx.

Community Health Needs Assessment 2014
East & Central Harlem