CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today joined hospital leaders and the Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA) to unveil the five-year report of the Chicago HEAL Initiative. 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 health disparities. Today’s report highlights significant progress made by the hospitals in local hiring, job training and mentorship, and trauma-informed care and youth mental health activities. As part of today’s report, Durbin also announced $4.35 million in new federal funding to support these hospital-led efforts to break the cycle of violence through community programs.

“In the relentless pursuit of safer communities, our year five report on the Chicago HEAL Initiative stands as a testament to both the ongoing challenge of gun violence and the remarkable power of collaboration to confront it,” said Durbin. “This year’s HEAL report showcases the resilience of our communities and the progress we have made together. Through these strategic partnerships, we can change lives, heal wounds, and build a nation where every individual lives free from the fear of gun violence. I salute the IHA and the ten hospital systems for their commitment, and will continue to pursue additional federal resources to advance their lifesaving work.”

“The HEAL initiative is a shining example of what can be accomplished when hospitals and community leaders come together, and work in earnest to facilitate positive change,” said A.J. Wilhelmi, President and CEO of Illinois Health and Hospital Association. “IHA is honored to be a part of this collaboration and we applaud Senator Durbin and our 10 health systems for creating the blueprint for this vital work to address violence and reduce disparities in communities across the city of Chicago.”

“Collaboration between street outreach workers and hospital-based trauma recovery teams is a natural one,” said Vaughn Bryant, Executive Director of Metropolitan Peace Initiatives. “Communities Partnering 4 Peace aims to prevent and intervene in the cycle of trauma and gun violence. Caring for violently injured community members and their families is essential to that work. We, at Metropolitan Peace Initiatives, want to thank UChicago Medicine and Senator Dick Durbin for their continued support and collaboration to ensure we are being responsive to our community’s needs.”

“From providing vital funding for the collaboration between UChicago Medicine’s Violence Recovery Program and Metropolitan Peace Initiatives, to sparking the launch of Southland RISE (Resilience Initiative to Strengthen and Empower), Senator Durbin’s Chicago HEAL Initiative has inspired the creative and strategic approaches required to address the causes and devastating effects of gun violence,” said Tom Jackiewicz, President of the University of Chicago Health System. “We are grateful for Senator Durbin’s sustained leadership and support on this critical issue and look forward to continued partnership in bringing meaningful change to the South Side communities that we serve.

The HEAL hospitals have sustained impressive efforts to collaborate around four main topics: local hiring; school/community programs; trauma/violence recovery programs; and data sharing. Among other highlights, in calendar year 2023, the hospitals:

  • Hired 4,402 new employees from the 18 focus neighborhoods (a 50 percent increase compared to the launch of HEAL in 2018). 
  • Provided 4,403 local students with summer employment, pipeline, or apprenticeship programs (a 31 percent increase from last year). 
  • Partnered with 253 Chicago Public Schools (a 20 percent increase from last year), including operating 16 school-based health clinics/mobile health units that served 7,599 students. 
  • Provided 2,614 victims of violence with ongoing trauma-informed case management and recovery programs (a 43 percent increase since 2018).

To meaningfully support the work of the hospitals, Durbin, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, worked to ensure the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 government funding bills included significant resources for HEAL-related programs in Chicago that fund community mental health, housing, job training, and violence prevention, including four Congressionally Directed Spending projects—more commonly known as earmarks—secured by Durbin: 

  • $1.1 million to the University of Chicago in partnership with Metropolitan Family Services to deliver street outreach and violence recovery services on the South Side of Chicago.
  • $500,000 to Advocate Health to provide summer internships to local college students and expand career opportunities in the health care field.
  • $1.25 million to Sinai Health to expand trauma-informed mental health services at Holy Cross Hospital.
  • $1.5 million to the University of Illinois Chicago in partnership with Rush University to expand school-based health services in Chicago.

The 10 hospitals initially involved in Chicago HEAL are among the largest serving Chicago: Advocate Health; Ascension Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Centers; Ann & 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 Five report HERE