Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Health and Humans; Sounding off on Health

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Health and Humans; Sounding off on Health

Article excerpt

We all know about the health issues in Jacksonville, especially in the low-income neighborhoods.

There aren't enough places to find healthy food. Public transportation isn't good enough for many residents to make doctor's appointments and visits to healthy food locations.

Neighborhoods aren't safe enough to walk, bike, jog and exercise outside.

For the elderly, the disabled or people in rural areas, staying healthy has special challenges in Jacksonville.

It depends on your income and the corollary, which part of the city you reside in.

By putting a human face on these issues, it all comes into focus.

That was the reaction following a listening session Thursday at the Jacksonville Urban League. The Florida Department of Health is running these sessions in order to help update a needs assessment for local hospitals.

The department is working with the following hospitals: Baptist, St. Vincent's, Mayo, Brooks, Wolfson and UF Health Jacksonville.

Start with the elephant in the room. If UF Health Jacksonville were to close, every health issue would become a crisis.

When the Times-Union asked the citizens what it would mean if the local public hospital were to close, reactions went like this:

THE DEVASTATION OF A HOSPITAL CLOSURE

"Eighth Street would die."

"I'm in disbelief."

"Increased crime, everything leaves from that area."

"It would devastate that area."

"The nearest trauma center would be in Gainesville."

"It's scary."

They are right. As JAX Chamber head John Delaney said, "People will die" if UF Health Jacksonville closes.

When the Times-Union asked the moderator if the Health Department has a plan if UF Health Jacksonville closes, there was no response.

There is no plan, but there should be. There is some movement in that direction, however.

Now, cynics would say that money will be found, it always is. But it is inexcusable that leaders, both locally and statewide, don't have a plan in place to see that UF Health Jacksonville is placed on a steadier financial footing.

HEALTH ISSUES

There are plenty of major health issues plaguing the city's Northwest section. …

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