Durbin, Hospital Leaders Release Year 3 Report On Chicago HEAL Initiative To Address Gun Violence

Durbin also announces $6 million in congressionally directed spending projects to support violence prevention and health care in Chicago

CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today joined hospital leaders and the Illinois Health and Hospital Association to unveil the three-year report of the Chicago HEAL Initiative and announce new federal investments to help reduce violence and health disparities. Launched in 2018 by Senator Durbin and 10 of the largest hospitals serving Chicago, the HEAL Initiative is a collaboration to address the root causes of gun violence through economic, health, and community projects in 18 of Chicago’s neighborhoods with the highest rates of violence, poverty, and inequality. Today’s report highlights significant progress made by the hospitals in local hiring and procurement, job training and mentorship, housing, and trauma-informed care and mental health activities.


“A few years ago, in my effort to turn over every stone to find a way to reduce the devastating toll of gun violence, I brought together the CEOs of 10 major hospitals serving Chicago. Despite normally being competitors in the health care sector, these hospitals banded together to engage their communities and address the root causes of violence,” Durbin said. “Today we are releasing a report on three years of this project that outlines the ways that hospitals are reaching beyond their walls to partner with the community. I’ve been proud to work with them and the Illinois Health and Hospital Association and I believe the activities and commitments of these hospitals provides a roadmap that will continue to make a difference across Chicago and beyond.


“I want to thank Senator Durbin for being a champion for equitable healthcare and his unwavering support of Illinois hospitals,” said IHA President & CEO A.J. Wilhelmi. I especially applaud Senator Durbin’s vision and leadership in bringing the HEAL hospitals together in 2018 and creating the path for the Chicago HEAL Initiative. IHA and the HEAL hospitals are proud of the progress made over the last three years on collaborative solutions to help curb violence and improve health equity in many underserved communities in Chicago. With strong support from Senator Durbin and other government partners, we stand committed to continuing this important work. HEAL - it's about changing lives.”


Yesterday, Senator Durbin convened the executives of all 10 hospitals to review the Year Three report and discuss future plans to collectively continue this impactful community-based work to address gun violence.  They were joined in the meeting by Dr. Rochelle Walensky—Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—who commended the hospitals for their progress and highlighted how the Chicago HEAL Initiative fits within CDC’s framework for addressing community violence and trauma.


Despite the challenges and strain of the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospitals were able to grow their commitments and investments in community violence prevention, addressing health disparities, trauma and mental health services, and local hiring, procurement, and workforce development.  Among other highlights, since HEAL launched in 2018, the ten hospitals:    


Among other highlights, since HEAL launched in 2018, the ten hospitals:    


  • Hired an average of 3,535 individuals from HEAL neighborhoods each year, a 21% increase compared to 2018.


  • Provided workforce development programs such as apprenticeships to an average of 6,072 high school and college students from HEAL neighborhoods—a 28% increase since 2018—in order to build a local workforce pipeline to promote careers in health care fields and paraprofessional roles.


  • Worked to break the cycle of violence by delivering post-injury trauma recovery programs to an annual average of 4,212 victims of violence—a 130% increase since 2018.


  • Trained 3,571 hospital staff to screen patients for social determinants of health needs, a 242% increase since 2018. 


  • Increased trauma-informed, community based counseling and support services by 82% from 86 programs in 2018 to 157 programs in 2021.


To meaningfully support the work of the hospitals, Durbin, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, worked to ensure the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Omnibus Appropriations Bill included significant resources for programs in Chicago that fund community mental health, housing, job training, and violence prevention, including:


  • $640,000 for Advocate Aurora Health System and University of Chicago Medicine to conduct a targeted neighborhood assessment to understand the specific causes of violence and the local strategies that may work best to prevent and intervene in violence. 


  • $1 million to the University of Illinois Health’s Mile Square Health Center to expand intergenerational trauma-informed care at its Cicero clinic location.


  • $315,000 to Cook County Health for a new Emergency Medical Technician Apprenticeship.


  • $600,000 to Lurie Children’s Hospital for a mobile health care van to deliver health care services and skilled professionals to medically underserved communities.


  • $900,000 to Holy Cross (Sinai) Hospital to increase access to substance use and mental health treatment for patients.


  • $1 million to Rush to help establish its Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases that will prioritize community engagement and workforce development.


  • $90,000 to expand NAMI’s Peer Support Program to provide mental health support.


  • $500,000 to Heartland Alliance to support READI Chicago, a violence reduction initiative providing for men at the highest risk of gun violence involvement.


  • $750,000 to UCAN Chicago to expand delivery of trauma-informed violence prevention and intervention programming to more communities facing high rates of violence.


The 10 hospitals initially involved in Chicago HEAL are among the largest serving Chicago: Advocate Aurora Health; Ascension 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; and University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences Systems.


Read the full Year Three report HERE