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CHICAGO US Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today joined hospital leaders and the Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA) to present the four-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 the largest neighborhoods. Chicago with the highest rates of violence and poverty. and health disparities. Today’s report highlights the significant progress made by hospitals in local hiring, job training and mentoring, and trauma-informed care and youth mental health activities. As part of today’s report, Durbin also announced $6.25 million in new federal funding to support these hospital-led efforts to break the cycle of violence through community programs.

“Today, we stand united in our tireless quest to combat the scourge of gun violence,” Durbin said. “The release of our fourth year report on the Chicago HEAL Initiative marks another milestone in our ongoing mission to create safer communities. Through the unwavering commitment of hospital leaders and the power of collaboration, we have witnessed tangible progress in addressing the root causes of violence. This report showcases the transformative efforts of our healthcare institutions, reaching beyond their walls to engage communities and build alliances.. Together, we are forging a path to lasting change. not just in Chicago, but as a beacon of hope for our entire nation.”

“IHA is proud to support the work of Chapter Two of the HEAL Initiative as health systems continue to partner with Senator Durbin to strengthen HEAL communities, improve health and reduce violence.” said AJ Wilhelmi, IHA President and CEO.

“The HEAL initiative makes it possible for our social workers and community health workers to expand mental health services and provide accessible curative care that acknowledges trauma and supports students and their families.” said Sally Lemke, DNP, Director of Community Based Practices, RUSH. “We thank Senator Durbin for recognizing the crucial role school-based health centers play in promoting wellness, mental health, academic success, and community health.”

Despite the challenges and stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals were able to increase their commitments and investments in community violence prevention, addressing health disparities, trauma and mental health services, and recruitment, acquisition and development of the local workforce. Among other highlights, last year the ten hospitals:

  • Hired 5,390 new employees from the 18 focus neighborhoods.
  • Provided 3,639 students with summer work, channeling, or apprenticeship programs.
  • It operated 24 school health clinics and mobile health units serving 11,277 students.
  • Served 17,623 individuals with violence recovery programs, including 3,028 victims with ongoing trauma-informed case management services.

To meaningfully support the work of hospitals, Durbin, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, worked to ensure that the FY 2023 General Appropriations Bill included significant resources for programs in Chicago that fund healthcare. community mental health, housing and job training. and violence prevention, including:

  • $1.5 million for the University of Illinois Chicago in partnership with Rush University to expand health services in Chicago schools.
  • $750,000 to Chicago Public Schools to launch a collaboration with HEAL hospitals to expand the number of hospitals partnering with CPS.
  • $1 million to the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago to create a new community health clinic site in Austin to serve children and families.
  • $500,000 to Advocate Aurora 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 its Population Health Career Pathway Program, which provides professional training in growing health careers for at-risk youth in Chicago.
  • $1.25 million to the University of Chicago in partnership with Metropolitan Family Services to provide street outreach and violence recovery services on Chicago’s South Side.

The 10 hospitals initially involved in Chicago HEAL are among the largest serving Chicago: Advocate Health; Ascension Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center; the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; Cook County Hospitals and Health System; Loyola University Medical Center; Northwest 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 fourth year report HERE.


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