Prince George’s County

Prince George’s County is composed of 499 square miles that borders Howard County to the north; Montgomery County, Washington, D.C. and Fairfax County, Virginia to the west; Charles County to the South and Calvert and Ann Arundel County to the east. It is located 37 miles south of the City of Baltimore. With more than 900,000 residents, it is the second most populous county in Maryland. The County includes rural, suburban, and urban areas, with the area boarding the District of Columbia as the most densely populated.  

Prince George’s County is a racially, ethnically and economically diverse region. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2015 62.1% of its residents identified as Black, 17.2% as Hispanic, 13.9% as White, and 4.7% as Asian. Compared to the state of Maryland, Prince George’s County has twice as many black and Hispanic residents, and one-fourth as many white residents. The median household income in 2015 was $76,366, which is slightly lower than the state median of $74,148; and the unemployment rate of 5.3% is about the same as the state rate of 5.2%. 9.5% of residents live in poverty and 64% of all school age children are eligible for free and reduced-price meals (FARMS), compared to 9.9% and 45% statewide.

Demographics of Prince George’s County vs Maryland

According to the 2017 Community Health Rankings and Roadmaps project, Prince George’s County ranks 14th of 24 Maryland counties based on health factors and outcomes. The average life expectancy in Prince George’s County is 80 years of age, which is slightly higher than the state life expectancy of 79.8 years. The infant mortality rate in Prince George’s County is 8.9 per 1,000 live births; higher than the state rate of 6.7 per 1,000 live births. Also elevated in Prince George’s County is the mortality rate of children between the ages of 0 and 17, at 70.9 deaths per 100,000 children, compared to Maryland’s 52.1 deaths per 100,000 children. In this age group, Prince George’s County has a 1.5 times larger death rate due to conditions originating in the perinatal period, and congenital abnormalities. It also has a 1.8 times larger death rate due to homicide.

Death Rates for Leading Causes of Death in Children Ages 0-17

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Prince George’s County residents. Chronic conditions including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes account for 60% of deaths. 11.5% of adult residents have been diagnosed with diabetes, compared to 10.2% in Maryland. The HIV prevalence rate in the county is 883 cases per 100,000 people, compared to Maryland’s prevalence rate of 641 cases per 100,000 people.

Infant Mortality Rate by Race

High Blood Pressure Hospitalization Rate by Race

Heart Disease Hospitalization Rate by Race

Although health indicators assist in understanding the health of a particular population, they do not tell the whole story. For example, infant mortality rates are notably different by race, with higher mortality rates of 8.2 deaths for every 1,000 Hispanic births and 8 deaths for every 1,000 black births, compared to 2.9 deaths for every 1,000 white births. Other measures of health tell similar stories of inequity when broken down by race. Amongst Medicare beneficiaries 65+, black residents have an increased rate of hospitalization due to high blood pressure, compared to their white or Hispanic neighbors; while Hispanic residents have a much lower rate of hospitalization due to heart disease.

Within Prince George’s County, there are significant disparities in health amongst people of different races, ethnicities, and incomes. These differences can be partially attributed to social determinants of health, which, according to the World Health Organization, are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age.

 

Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), access to health coverage is improving across the county. In Prince George’s County, the number of people without health care coverage decreased from 14% to 9%. However, access to care may continue to be a challenge due to the limited supply of primary care providers practicing within the County. In Prince George’s County, there is one primary care provider for every 1,852 residents, compared to the statewide average of one primary care provider for every 1,124 Maryland residents. Currently there are three regional health systems and five hospitals located in the county.  As of 2016, there are five Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) operating seven facilities in Prince George’s County. The 2015 Prince George’s County Primary Healthcare Strategic Plan addresses the need to strengthen the county’s primary health care infrastructure, increase access to quality primary care services, and address health care services for uninsured residents. Plans are underway to develop a regional academic health center to replace the Prince George’s County Hospital.

 

Making Prince George’s County a healthier place for all to live requires not only expanding wellness initiatives and access to quality healthcare, but also addressing the economic and social well being of its citizens.