What is a health equity zone?

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) established Health Equity Zones (HEZs) in 2015 to improve community health in areas that need it most.  HEZs are collaboratives of residents, community organizations, health professionals, and others who come together to address the root causes of health disparities. The HEZs work to ensure every neighborhood has a fair and just opportunity to be healthier. This work requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination, racism, and their consequences, including insufficient access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education, affordable housing, safe environments, and healthcare.

Our Community Building Team.

Why “Central Providence”?

Central Providence Opportunities: A Health Equity Zone is an extension of the Olneyville Health Equity Zone. The Olneyville HEZ was built on a foundation of more than a thousand hours of resident interviews, dozens of community events, and countless organizational meetings.

In 2019, we expanded our target area to include nearby neighborhoods (Hartford, Valley, and Federal Hill) with similar characteristics but fewer community organizations to do the work. With this expansion, we renamed ourselves the “Central Providence” HEZ (CP-HEZ). To ensure that our work remains rooted in community needs, we conducted a needs assessment in our new neighborhoods in 2019 and 2020.

A Focus on Economic Opportunity

The Rhode Island Department of Health identifies five domains that affect health equity: 1) Integrated Healthcare; 2) Community Resiliency; 3) Physical Environment; 4) Socioeconomics; and 5) Community Trauma. While many of these domains overlap, our HEZ is particularly focused on the Socioeconomic domain.

Life expectancy for residents in Central Providence neighborhoods is about 9 years less than for residents from more socioeconomically advantaged neighborhoods in Providence. Fifty percent of the factors that determine health have to do with economic and social conditions. Empirical research clearly shows that improving these conditions improves the health of Central Providence residents. When our neighbors are healthier, they will use less high-cost healthcare services. The savings realized by the healthcare system have the potential to be reinvested in actions that promote health.

Our Partners Make This Possible

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