Other measures of health tell similar stories of inequity when broken down by race: black residents have an infant mortality rate nearly twice that of white residents. Amongst Medicare beneficiaries 65+, black residents have an increased rate of hospitalization due to high blood pressure compared to their white or Hispanic neighbors. Hispanics in the health district have the lowest rates of hospitalization due to heart disease, but also have elevated rates of hospitalization due to high blood pressure.
Within the Fairfax Health District, there are significant disparities in health amongst people of different races, ethnicities, and incomes. These differences can be partially attributed to social determinants of health, which, according to the World Health Organization, are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age.
Northern Virginia has a robust healthcare system. There is one primary care physician for every 970 residents of Fairfax County, and one primary care physician for every 310 residents of Falls Church. However, these resources are not equitably distributed. According to HRSA, a southeastern portion of the county, the western Route 1 corridor between Groveton and Lorton, is a designated medically underserved area, meaning it contains fewer than one primary care physician for every 3,500 residents. Inova, the largest hospital system in Northern Virginia, has several locations in Fairfax and Falls Church. Additionally, the Reston Hospital Center, a part of the HCA Virginia health care system, serves the county at one location. The Inova Health system serves the area at multiple sites, including a women’s clinic, two children’s clinics, and three HIV/AIDs clinics.
In addition to location, cost may be a barrier for the 12% of residents of the health district under the age of 65 who are uninsured. Fairfax City has the highest uninsured rate in the health district, at 14%. Fairfax County and Falls Church City have uninsured rates of 12% and 7%, respectively. Although these rates are equal to or lower than Virginia’s average uninsured rate of 14%, they remain higher than the averages of neighboring West Virginia (8%), and Maryland (7%), where Medicaid was expanded. Those without insurance or resources to pay for care rely on safety net clinics for primary health care services. Two Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) serve the health district: HealthWorks for Northern Virginia and Neighborhood Health. The Fairfax County Community Health Care Network (CHCN) is a county-funded primary health care partnership that includes 3 clinic facilities serving uninsured County residents. Other low-cost health resources include NOVA ScriptsCentral, a pharmacy; Northern Virginia Family Service; Northern Virginia Volunteer Dental Clinic; and Springfield/Franconia Family Resource Center. Three free, charitable clinics are located in Fairfax: Culmore Clinic, ADAMS Compassionate Health Care Network, and the Mission Life Center Hope Clinic. The Fairfax County Health Department has 5 district offices located throughout the county, offering immunizations, maternity services, dental services for children, refugee health screenings, and pregnancy, HIV, STD, and TB testing, to some county residents.
Although Fairfax County Health District is one of Virginia’s healthiest, inequities amongst its residents exist. Making the district a healthier place for all to live requires not only improving upon wellness initiatives and access to quality healthcare, but addressing needs pertaining to the economic and social well-being of its residents.