Health by zip code? Some Philly neighborhoods are ‘primary care deserts’

It was a busy morning at Health Center 10 on Cottman Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia. The seating area was full of families waiting to be called in by a doctor, and a line to see the receptionist snaked throughout the clinic.

If the place had the feeling of bursting at the seams, it’s because it is — Health Center 10 is by far the busiest of the eight primary care health centers run by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. It sees 67,000 patient visits a year, and new patients add their names to a long waiting list for appointments. City clinics treat patients regardless of insurance status — making them the only option for many families. On Tuesday, the sound of a construction crew hammering away in the basement reverberated through the building — an effort to expand the number of exam rooms spaces.

Health Center 10 is the only Health Center operated by the city in the Northeast, and according to a report released on Tuesday by Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, that scarcity has a cost. Areas of the Northeast, along with Southwest Philadelphia, have much lower access to primary care providers than elsewhere in the city. Primary care, while often overlooked, can be critical in keeping people healthy.

Go to top