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The Players creates platform for health inequity conversations

Five health leaders in North Florida gathered at TPC Sawgrass for a discussion on health inequities and the challenges facing our community.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — It was at this point last year when The Players was 24 hours away from being shut down. A lot has happened since March 2020. 

The Players organization is using their platform to spread awareness about the health issues people on the First Coast are facing. They brought in the top health leaders in our community to talk about the reality off the greens. 

It’s a stark contrast to have the beauty of TPC Sawgrass in the background of a talk about poverty. 

Leaders from UF Health, Feeding Northeast Florida, UnitedHealth, Lift Jax, and Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition discussed health inequities in Duval County. It’s a far cry from St. Johns County, which currently ranks first in the state of Florida for healthy outcomes. Duval is 45.

See the rankings for all of the counties in Florida here.

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Dr. Leon Haley, Jr., CEO at UF Health Jacksonville says the problems are even divided up by ZIP codes.

“For example, where our hospital UF Health is in downtown Jacksonville," Haley said. "We sit in ZIP code 32209. ZIP code 32207 is really just across the river five minutes away and there is about a 15-year difference in life expectancy.”

These leaders say it boils down to poverty and the stress that comes from poverty including lack of healthcare and food. It can be deadly. Infant mortality rates in 2019 in Duval County were 7.9 deaths out of every 1,000 live births, according to Florida Dept. of Health data.

“In 2018 we had 147," said Megan Denk with The Players Center for Child Health. "That’s multiple kindergarten classrooms ... 147 that did not make it to their first birthday.”

These leaders say advocacy, awareness, and resources are three things they need to solve this issue in our community. With the platform The Players has, they hopefully are on their way.

You can watch their hour-long discussion here.