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  • Bruce Baker

Healthy Montgomery Data Reveals Local Health Disparities

Data compiled by Healthy Montgomery, the County’s health improvement process within the Department of Health and Human Service, shows that the 20912 zip code (Takoma Park and Long Branch) is tied for the highest age-adjusted hospitalization rate for diabetes in Montgomery County. The hospitalization rate is 25.0 hospitalizations per 10,000 people.[1] This is more than double the county wide rate, which is 11.6 hospitalizations per 10,000. The 20903 zip code (Long Branch and areas north of Takoma Park) also has a very high diabetes hospitalization rate of 23.1 per 10,000. Healthy Montgomery also reports that the County -wide diabetes hospitalization rate for “Black or African Americans” is about 4 times higher than it is for “Whites” (30.9 vs 7.8).[2] These calculations are based on data from 2009 to 2011.

The data also shows that the 20912 and 20903 zip codes also have high hospitalization rates for the”Age adjusted Hospitalization Rate due to Long term Complications from Diabetes”[3] and “Age Adjusted Hospitalization Rate Due to Uncontrolled Diabetes.”[4] Further evidence of the high prevalence and seriousness of diabetes was also provided during the formulation of the original Long Branch Health Enterprise Zone by service providers at the Takoma and East Silver Spring (TESS) Center who identified diabetes as the most common medical problem they were encountering in the Long Branch population.

The Healthy Montgomery data also shows that the 20912 zip code has a very high rate of emergency room visits related to alcohol abuse in the County, 109.3 visits per 10,000 people. This is almost 5 times the County wide rate of 23.6 per 10,000 people.[5] This finding raises many questions and requires additional research. It also highlights the need for behavioral health treatment strategies in Takoma Park and Long Branch.

A third significant finding is a very high rate of “Age Adjusted Emergency Room Visits due to Pediatric Asthma.” In the 20903 zip code the rate is 154.9 visits per 10,000 people. This is almost double the county-wide rate of 81.6 per 10,000. In the 20912 zip code the rate is 106.6 visits per 10,000 people.[6] This ailment is often related to poor housing conditions (where allergens, such as mold and mildew are present) and also to high exposure to poor air quality. Improvements in housing and environmental controls may be effective in addressing this.[7]

CHEER will continue to research health in the Takoma Park and Long Branch communities to identify ways to measure and improve health and well being.


[1] accessed November 26, 2013 Note the 20912 zip code is tied with 20872 (Damascus) for the highest rate. These rates are calculated from hospital data for the years 2009 to 2011 from the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission.

[3]The hospitalization rate due to long term complications of diabetes is 15.2 per 10,000 for the 20912 zip code and 15.1 per 10,000 for the 20903 zip code. This is more than double the county-wide rate of 7.2 per 10,000. accessed November 26, 2013

[4]The hospitalization rate due uncontrolled diabetes is 3.0 per 10,000 in 20912 and 2.8 in zip code 20903. This is more than triple the county-wide rate of 0.9 per 10,000. accessed November 26, 2013

[7] Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, ISSUE BRIEF SERIES: EXPLORING THE SOCIAL DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH HOUSING AND HEALTH – MAY 2011, p.2. See also Lanphear BP, Aligne CA, Auinger P, et al. “Residential Exposures Associated with Asthma in U.S. Children.” Pediatrics, 107(3): 505-11, 2001.

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