Durbin Releases Chicago HEAL Initiative 2020 Report

SPRINGFIELD – Today, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), together with ten Chicago-area hospitals and the Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA), released the one-year report on the progress of the Chicago HEAL Initiative (Hospital Engagement, Action, and Leadership) to improve health and reduce violence in underserved communities across Chicago. 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 uplift the economic, health, and neighborhood conditions that are at the root of disparities, specifically in 18 of Chicago’s neighborhoods with the highest rates of violence, poverty, and inequality. Recognizing their roles as leading employers, the hospitals have made 16 tangible commitments on actions—outside of their traditional health care roles—to engage their communities, including through local hiring and procurement, job training and mentorship, housing, and mental health activities. 

Amid the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Black and Latinx communities, the efforts by the Chicago HEAL Initiative hospitals to focus public health engagement on the most vulnerable populations, promote cultural competency and address historical bias and stigma in health care, foster economic opportunity, and increase the representation of minority students in health careers have taken on even greater importance. 

“During the first year of the Chicago HEAL Initiative, I have visited programs run by all ten hospitals to understand how they are collaborating with stakeholders and community members to tackle health disparities, address trauma, and prevent violence. These efforts are putting the Chicago HEAL Initiative into action, with real results,” said Durbin. “Unfortunately, the racial and ethnic health disparities that we are striving to address have only been magnified by the COVID-19 public health crisis. The role of our leading hospitals to reach these vulnerable populations and address health inequity has never been clearer.”

In just one year, HEAL hospitals:

  • Hired 3,742 individuals from the HEAL neighborhoods, a 17 percent increase from 2018
  • Paired 5,177 patients with trauma-informed, post-injury counseling services in 2019, compared to 1,828 patients linked to such services in 2018—a 183 percent increase
  • Spent $134 million in local procurement efforts for supplies and services, a 41 percent increase from 2018
  • Provided 11,688 local students with apprenticeship and career development programs in health care careers
  • Screened 75,625 patients on trauma and “social determinants of health” needs, and trained 1,099 intake and health care staff on these issues

Watch Durbin’s message about the report HERE. 

Read the full report HERE.

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 secured new funding and directive language in the fiscal year 2020 appropriations bills to prioritize communities such as Chicago for mental health, trauma-informed care, violence prevention, job training, and supportive housing programs. 

Together, the ten hospitals have more than 22,400 employees from the 18 focus neighborhoods.  These ten hospitals initially involved in the Chicago HEAL Initiative 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 ten 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.