Durbin Marks The One Year Anniversary Of The Chicago HEAL Initiative With Discussion On Career Development And Trauma-Informed Care In Schools

CHICAGO – As part of a second day of events to mark the one-year anniversary of the Chicago Hospital Engagement, Action, and Leadership (HEAL) Initiative, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), met with leaders from Northwestern Medicine, Lurie’s Children Hospital, and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to discuss how the hospitals are collaborating with CPS to support career development and trauma-informed care for students

“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.” 

Today’s discussion highlighted the Northwestern Medicine Scholars Program at Westinghouse College Prep, which enables high school students to explore and be better prepared for potential careers in medicine as future physicians and biomedical scientists. The four-year pipeline program serves a high percentage of promising students who live in challenging socioeconomic circumstances, addressing the well-recognized “pipeline” concerns in STEM education among Black, Latino, female and low-income students (also known as underrepresented minority students). In its tenth year, this innovative extramural academic enrichment program recruits high-achieving under-represented minority ninth graders interested in health science careers. The program aspires to become a national model for scholastic achievement by under-represented minority students sufficient to merit entry into health science careers.

Together with 10 of the largest hospitals serving the Chicago area and the Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA), Durbin released a one-year interim report yesterday 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 the 10 hospitals, 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.

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. 

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.  The RISE from Trauma Act (Resilience Investment, Support, and Expansion) would help to build the trauma informed workforce and increase resources for communities to support children who have experienced 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.