Durbin, Duckworth Announce $2 Million In Federal Funding For SIU School Of Medicine

Durbin, Duckworth Secure Funding for Equity, Professional Development, Telehealth Upgrades

SPRINGFIELD – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced $2 million in new federal funding he secured along with U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) to help the SIU School of Medicine to address some of the most challenging health care and workforce issues facing the communities served by the school.  Durbin secured $1 million in the Fiscal Year 2022 Omnibus appropriations bill for a new Regional Center for Equity and Professional Development that will create new pathways and training programs to help establish a more diverse workforce.  Duckworth secured $1 million in the same legislation for health care equipment to support telehealth services and public health education efforts. 

“Health care institutions like SIU’s School of Medicine are the backbone of our rural communities,” said Durbin.  “This important new funding that Senator Duckworth and I secured will help SIU lead the way in addressing tomorrow’s challenges, like building a workforce to meet our evolving needs and strengthening our health care system to improve patient care.”

“I’m pleased Senator Durbin and I were able to secure funding for important projects that will help clean up our water, improve our state’s infrastructure, expand healthcare access, create jobs and tackle environmental injustice issues facing communities across Illinois,” said Duckworth. “With the additional resources we were able to secure in the recent omnibus law, I’m proud that Illinoisans all throughout our state will have access to improved telehealth services, greater public health education and more workforce development. I’ll keep working to ensure our Illinois communities have the resources they need to thrive.”

“It is always a pleasure to work with Senator Durbin as he continues to be an advocate for better health for all,” Jerry Kruse MD, MSPH, Dean and Provost of SIU School of Medicine said.  “His vision for equity in healthcare access means that SIU School of Medicine always has a partner in our mission to optimize the health of central and southern Illinois.”

“Healthy people emerge from healthy and equitable communities,” Wendi El-Amin, MD, Associate Dean of Equity Diversity and Inclusion at SIU School of Medicine said. “Our overall well-being is impacted by economics and social determinants of health. Through community collaboration, we can better care for our communities and enhance their health outcomes. The Center is our commitment and investment in educational pathways and supportive systems that can foster healthier workplaces for our region.”

“This funding will help us build a physical infrastructure that allows our digital footprint to grow as we serve telehealth patients and create the digital engagement tools they need to champion health in their lives and communities,” Laura Hepp-Kessel, Director of Telehealth Services at SIU School of Medicine. “With the construction of a new virtual training studio, we will have dedicated space for telehealth, digital health literacy productions and rural health provider education.”

The funding for the Regional Center for Equity and Professional Development will be used to assess workforce gaps and create new pathway programs to establish a more diverse workforce—both for health care workers and local businesses—by partnering with regional business leaders to implement new education and training pathways.  The funding for upgrades to SIU School of Medicine’s facilities and equipment will enhance telehealth services and build a media studio for health literacy and awareness efforts—such as public health vaccination campaigns.