2018 Health of the City Report Issued

Today, Philadelphia Department of Public Health released the second Health of the City annual report, which describes the landscape of health for Philadelphia residents. Many health indicators are improving, but some indicators – particularly those related to opioid use and unhealthy behaviors – are troubling. Among the grimmest findings was that drug overdoses and homicides have caused a decline in life expectancy in Philadelphia. The latest data on teen health has good news though: cigarette use, drinking, sweetened beverage use, teen birth rates, and new cases of sexually-transmitted diseases have all continued to drop.


Health Department Website Launch

PHILADELPHIA–Last month, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and Office of Open Data and Digital Transformation (ODDT) capped a nearly year-long effort to rethink, rewrite, and reorganize the web presence of the Health Department. The new website,  www.phila.gov/health, will allow residents to easily get access to information on preventing disease and living healthily, while providing direct access to nearly 100 services available to the public.


Postoperative Opioid Prescribing Guidelines

Press release

PHILADELPHIA — This morning, Mayor Jim Kenney and Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley, flanked by surgeons from three of the major health systems in Philadelphia, announced the release of new, voluntary guidelines for surgeons to use when deciding if, and how many, opioids will be prescribed after a successful surgery. These guidelines are the first in the country that were built using evidence of actual use. 


Philadelphia Tribune

Philadelphia is trying to get doctors to prescribe fewer opioids to patients recovering from surgery through voluntary guidelines published for surgeons.

If the guidelines are followed, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said, far fewer opioid pills will be prescribed in the city.


By Tom MacDonald


The Philadelphia Health Department has taken the unusual step of developing opioid prescription guidelines for surgeons in the city, in another effort to reign in the addiction epidemic. The guidelines are based on research showing opioids may be completely unnecessary after minor surgery.

Philadelphia is the first city to take on the task. Health Commissioner Tom Farley says other efforts to reduce opioid prescriptions have paid off, but still a survey showed they’re at historically high levels.


By Pat Loeb


The Philadelphia Health Department has taken the unusual step of developing opioid prescription guidelines for surgeons in the city, in another effort to reign in the addiction epidemic. KYW Newsradio’s City Hall bureau chief Pat Loeb reports the guidelines are based on research showing opioids may be completely unnecessary after minor surgery.


By Pat Loeb


Doctors want to keep patients out of pain following surgery, but research is showing opioids aren’t always the best option, they’re overprescribed, and too many pills end up in the wrong hands.

“With these guidelines, patients will not be suffering unnecessarily with pain,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Tom Farley.

By Stephanie Stahl


“If all the surgeons in Philadelphia use these guidelines, this will reduce the use of opioids after surgery by more than 80 percent,” he said.

The guidelines call for using non-opioid pain treatments instead, which Farley says studies show are better for pain management.


By Tom MacDonald

Access to Care Report

Press Release

PHILADELPHIA — This morning, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, with the support of the University of Pennsylvania Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, released a report on the state of primary medical care in Philadelphia, Staying Healthy: Access to Primary Care in Philadelphia. This report found that while the total number of primary care providers in the city continues to rise, some neighborhoods–the Northeast and Southwest Philadelphia–have a significantly lower supply of primary care providers than other parts of the city.



In a city with more than 30 hospitals and five medical schools, it might seem that proximity to basic health care would not be a problem.

But the new report finds that parts of the Northeast and Southwest are officially “primary care shortage areas,” with one provider for every 3,500 people, far below the citywide average of one per 1,200 people.


By Pat Loeb


Currently, there is a six-month wait for a doctor’s appointment, said Joan Bland, the clinic’s director and a nurse. For a walk-in, there is at least a half-hour wait to see a health-care provider, she said. The clinic is adding patient exam rooms in the basement, and has hired more nurse-practitioners to help with the patient load.

The clinic is in an area rich with diversity. There are 12 interpreters on staff for patients who speak Chinese, Spanish, Russian, Hindi, and Urdu, among other languages. Six staff members, who all speak at least two languages, help patients set up insurance, Bland said.


By Mari Schaefer


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.


By Nina Feldman

Philly Tribune

The study released on Tuesday by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health indicates that while the total number of primary care providers in the city continues to rise, some neighborhoods — the Northeast and Southwest Philadelphia — have a significantly lower supply of primary care providers than other parts of the city.

This shortage means that these areas, commonly low-income and with high proportions of racial and ethnic minorities, are forced to wait longer to see their primary care providers for routine appointments. For residents who utilize Medicaid as their health insurance, this report finds that many providers who accept Medicaid as insurance nonetheless do not make appointments available for Medicaid patients.


By staff

Cases of West Nile Virus in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA–Today, the Health Department announced that they have identified eleven confirmed cases of human West Nile Virus thus far in 2018. None of these cases were fatal. Previously, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has announced that they have seen the highest level of West Nile virus activity in the mosquito population since the disease was first introduced in 2000. Health Department employees are working in a variety of ways to control mosquitoes throughout the city, but need the public’s help.


Philadelphia has High Immunization Rates 2018

“High immunization rates are one of the best ways that we can keep our residents healthy,” said Dr. Caroline Johnson, Acting Deputy Health Commissioner. “When we vaccinate people, we prevent outbreaks of dangerous diseases. We save lives.”


Overdose Awareness Day Press Release

PHILADELPHIA–In response to a public health crisis unlike anything in the last century, the City of Philadelphia recognizes International Overdose Awareness Day. This is a global event held on August 31st every year that aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death.