Durbin, Hospital Leaders Release Chicago HEAL Initiative Two-Year Progress Report

CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today joined hospital leaders and the Illinois Health and Hospital Association to unveil the two-year progress report of the Chicago HEAL Initiative (Hospital Engagement, Action, and Leadership), which outlines activities undertaken by hospitals to improve health and reduce violence in underserved communities across Chicago. Despite the unprecedented challenges and strain of the COVID- 19 pandemic, the hospitals were able to sustain and grow their commitments and investments in community violence prevention, addressing health disparities, trauma and mental health services, and local hiring, procurement, and workforce development.

“Through their work under the Chicago HEAL Initiative, these ten hospitals concentrated resources and strengthened relationships with their surrounding neighborhoods to address the rising toll of gun violence and health disparities. That community framework also helped connect people to the heroic work of hospital workers in the treatment, testing, tracing, and vaccination response to COVID-19,” Durbin said. “I have been proud to assist these efforts by supporting federal resources for community outreach and to expand the workforce that is providing trauma-informed care. We have much more work to do, but I believe the activities and commitments of these hospitals provides a roadmap that will continue to make a difference across Chicago and beyond.

Launched in October 2018 by Senator Durbin and ten of the largest hospitals serving Chicago, the Chicago HEAL Initiative is a three-year project to make a measurable difference in the well-being of Chicago residents and specifically in 18 of Chicago’s neighborhoods with the highest rates of violence, poverty, and inequality. Recognizing their roles as the leading employers, the hospitals have made 16 tangible commitments on actions to uplift their communities, including through local hiring and procurement, job training and mentorship, housing, and trauma-informed care and mental health activities.

Among other highlights, under Year Two of HEAL (calendar year 2020), the ten hospitals:

  • Hired 3,080 new employees from the 18 neighborhoods, a 5% increase from 2018. 
  • Spent $131 million on procurement of supplies and services from focus neighborhoods, a 37% increase from $95 million in 2018. 
  • Provided 4,524 patients with post-injury, trauma-informed counseling services, a 147% increase from 2018.
  • Trained 1,815 staff to screen for social determinants of health (74% increase from 2018), resulting in 66,022 patients receiving such evaluations.

Last month, Durbin wrote the Biden Administration to highlight the Chicago HEAL Initiative as a strategy to help the Administration implement its focus on preventing and reducing gun violence in America.  Community intervention efforts used by hospitals under the Chicago HEAL Initiative include trauma-informed programming at schools, street outreach efforts, pairing mental health and social services for at-risk youth, hospital-based violence interventions to prevent re-injury, and a range of other strategies to improve social determinants of health such as housing and hunger.

The 10 hospitals initially involved in Chicago HEAL are among the largest serving Chicago:

  • Advocate Aurora Health
  • AMITA Health’s Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center         
  • Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
  • Cook County Health and Hospital System
  • Loyola University Medical Center
  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital
  • Rush University Medical Center
  • Sinai Health System
  • University of Chicago Medical Center
  • University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences Systems

Read the full Year Two report HERE.