As a member of the American Heart Association Southeastern PA Board of Directors and a resident in Delaware County, I am delighted at the establishment of the Delaware County Health Department, which will support the health and wellness of nearly 600,000 residents of Delaware Country.
After years of data collection and preparation, the establishment of the Delaware Country Health Department is an opportunity to better address health equity in our county, including a localized approach to improve health outcomes. In July 2020, the Delaware County Council commissioned “Examination of Health and Public Health Service Delivery in Delaware County, Pennsylvania” by the John Hopkins School of Public Health. This report found that the prevalence of cardiovascular disease in Delaware County was 8%, which had increased from 5% from 2013 to 2018. Additionally, the report indicated that cardiovascular disease was the leading cause of death in Delaware County and that the county had worse rates of cardiovascular disease prevalence than neighboring counties like Montgomery.
The American Heart Association supports the establishment of the Department of Health, as it aligns with the organization’s mission and 2024 Health Equity Impact Goal, which states that every person deserves the opportunity for a full, healthy life, and that by 2024, the organization will advance cardiovascular health for all, including identifying and removing barriers to health care access and quality.
As a physician, local resident, and volunteer with the AHA, I am excited to remain engaged and look forward to opportunities for partnership and collaboration in Delaware County. This includes utilizing data to help establish plans that address health equity in the county. Congratulations to Delaware Country for taking the health of its residents seriously and for supporting the future of its residents with policy and infrastructure for better health outcomes for all!
William A. Gray, M.D., FACC, FSCAI, Board Member and Immediate Past President, American Heart Association Greater Philadelphia Region, System Chief, Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, Main Line Health, President, Lankenau Heart Institute