Durbin Marks The One Year Anniversary Of The Chicago HEAL Initiative, Releases Interim Report

CHICAGO – To mark the one year anniversary of the Chicago Hospital Engagement, Action, and Leadership (HEAL) Initiative, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), together with ten Chicago-area hospitals and the Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA), today released a one-year interim report on the activities undertaken by the hospitals to improve health and reduce violence in underserved communities across Chicago. Launched in October 2018 by Senator Durbin and 10 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—outside of their traditional health care roles—to uplift their communities, including through local hiring and procurement, job training and mentorship, housing, and mental health activities.

“Our efforts under the Chicago HEAL Initiative are just the beginning, but I am optimistic about the impact we will have together across Chicago,” said Durbin. “I am thankful for all community leaders and stakeholders who have joined these dedicated hospitals in improving their service to their neighborhoods, and I encourage more partners to join us in the coming years.” 

The interim report of the Chicago HEAL Initiative shows the initial progress being made on three priorities:

  • Increase local workforce commitment to reduce economic hardship
  • Support community partnerships to improve health and safety of public environments
  • Prioritize key in-hospital clinical practices to address unmet needs

Together, the 10 hospitals have nearly 15,000 employees from 18 of the most underserved neighborhoods, screen more than 75,000 patients for trauma and social determinants of health needs, and provide nearly 5,000 local students with career development programs. 

Today Durbin met with leaders from Cook County Health and Hospital System and University of Illinois Health, along with community housing, public health, and social services partner organizations, to discuss their work to support affordable housing pilot programs for individuals experiencing homelessness through the use of case management services and a flexible housing pool.

Durbin also announced his plans to introduce new legislation that builds upon successful hospital-led programs in Chicago by establishing Medicaid funding for supportive housing efforts, increasing funding for federal grant programs that recruit low-income and minority health providers, and establishing a clinical trial research network at the National Institutes of Health to support trauma-informed care for victims of violence.

To support the hospitals in meeting their 16 commitments under the Chicago HEAL Initiative, Durbin has passed sweeping federal legislation to provide new funding to address childhood trauma.  Durbin also announced that the several of the fiscal year 2020 appropriations bills—currently under consideration before the Senate—include new funding and directive language to prioritize funding for communities such as Chicago for mental health, trauma-informed care, violence prevention, job training, and supportive housing programs.

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

  • Advocate Christ Medical Center
  • 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

While these hospitals traditionally are competitors, under the Chicago HEAL Initiative, each of these 10 hospitals is committing publicly to work together, and with a broad range of community organizations, to do more to tackle the root causes of gun violence and health disparities. HEAL is premised on the notion that truly reducing violence requires more than just world-class health care in the hospital setting to treat physical wounds—but a community-focused prevention strategy that recognizes hospitals as often the largest employers and leaders of neighborhood initiatives to address underlying root causes. 

Read the full interim report HERE.