Premature death high here in Brooklyn

Life in Brooklyn ain’t that sweet if you’re broke and have poor access to health care.

In fact, according to a new health report by the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, more people suffer premature death here in Brooklyn than practically anyplace else in New York State.

At 58, Kings County ranks near the very bottom of the recently released report that looks at mortality and wellness in New York state’s 62 counties.

The most idyllic locales for rocking chairs and shuffle board, according to the report, are nearby Nassau County and ultra-affluent Putnam County. Even Queens ranks at a respectable 22.

Brooklyn, however, with its 24,306 premature deaths recorded between 2004 and 2006, isn’t so fortunate. Premature deaths, as classified in the new County Health Rankings, is represented by years of potential life lost before the age of 75. All toll, the survey estimated that Brooklynites lost a total of 7,009 good years.

There are many health factors that contribute to Brooklyn’s dismal ranking.

The borough suffers from high rates of both obesity and smoking.

But some of the poorest neighborhoods in New York City are located in north and central Brooklyn where more than 1 in 3 residents live in poverty.

Between 2003 and 2004 the death rate in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Brownsville, and Prospect Heights was more than 20 percent higher than the rest of the borough, and 30 percent higher than in New York City overall.

The County Health Rankings found 16 percent of adult respondents in Brooklyn were uninsured, and a whopping 32 percent of children living in poverty.

You may or may not have one foot in the grave, but many of your neighbors taking part in the survey reported just not feeling well.

Twenty-two percent described their health as poor or fair. On average, those asked to describe how many times during the past 30 days they felt physically unwell, said 3.7 days.

When asked to describe their mental condition as poor due to stress, depression or other emotional problems, Brooklynites responding to the survey said on average they felt unhealthy 3.5 days out of the month.

The City of New York monitors resources like the County Health Rankings, and says that the disparities raised in the report are not unexpected.

Despite that, officials here maintain that they are making strides against the inequalities.

Since 2002, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene says that premature death in both Brooklyn and the Bronx – number 62 on the County Health Rankings – has declined 16 percent.

City officials also say that the rate of preventable hospitalization among adults in Brooklyn between the years 2002 and 2006 fell by 19 percent.

“Take Care New York,” the city’s health policy initiatives aims to build on those reported gains.

Direct Public Health Offices located in Central Brooklyn at 485 Throop Avenueand 335 Central Avenue, are is intended to address unmet public health needs.