South L.A. Report Card: Zero for Conduct
Town Without Pity -- And Hospitals
Everyone knows South L.A. has problems -- even its civic moniker had to be changed from "South Central L.A." a few years ago, so synonymous had those words become with crime and poverty. A new study by the Community Health Councils, however, shows just how bad things are. By comparing statistics for the area with the Westside and with L.A. County, the report portrays stark contrasts in the quality of life two for communities that exist only a few miles from one another.
Earlier this year, CHC released an equally grim study about grocery and food shopping opportunities in South L.A. -- or the lack thereof.
Among the "health equity" report card findings:
- South L.A. has 28 percent fewer health care facilities than the countywide average -- while West L.A. has 59 percent more.
- The area has 76 percent fewer health care workers than the county average, while the Westside has 182 percent more.
- Physical Activity Options for South L.A. are rated as 55 percent fewer than the county's, even as West L.A. enjoys 24 percent more.
The report card's authors know how inured the rest of us are to such figures. "The data," the report concludes, "in and of themselves do not add up to a groundbreaking discovery." Still, the reasons behind that data are unmistakable: " . . . conditions found in South L.A. are not simply a result of individual behavior but rather an outgrowth of racial segregation and public and private policies and systems that concentrate poverty."
In the months ahead, how the district's new Supervisor, Mark Ridley Thomas, responds to this kind of information will define how much daylight he can place between himself and the lackadaisical legacy of his precedessor, Yvonne B. Burke.