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Health & Medicine Shares Recommendations for CCHHS Strategic Plan

On Thursday, July 21, Health & Medicine’s Executive Director Margie Schaps offered testimony at a public hearing on Cook County Health & Hospitals System’s three-year strategic plan, Impact 2020.

Throughout its history, Health & Medicine has worked to support CCHSS and the safety net through research, policy, and fiscal support. In 2007, Health & Medicine helped to create the independent board of CCHHS and continues to serves on the nominating committee, advising Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on the new appointments.

“While we wholeheartedly support the vision laid out in the strategic plan,” Schaps testified,  “<any challenges will face the system in the coming years:  developing and retaining the right workforce for the populations you serve, keeping patients in the system now that many have options to receive care elsewhere through Medicaid expansion, moving care to the communities most in need, strengthening the public health system that is the backbone of ensuring population health, and securing the financing to provide needed programs and services.”

Schaps went on to offer the Board a number of recommendations to augment the plan:

  • Explore new workforce/team models of care:  peer educators, community health workers, and peer support for behavioral health challenges.  These have been shown to be highly effective for many populations.
  • Develop a taskforce of insiders and outsiders (like Health & Medicine) to help define how the system might best address equity and SDOH. We at HMPRG are looking at promising practices around the country and would be happy to support this work.
  • Use our political leaders, the media and others to try to engage the other not-for-profit hospitals in the region to take more responsibility for the care of the uninsured and underinsured in our County.  They must not step back from their responsibility to use the tax advantages given them to provide charity care under the Illinois constitution.
  • Explore not only new staffing models, but new sites of care delivery, for example freestanding birth centers which are now legal in Illinois and I believe would bring many pregnant women back to the CCHHS for their care if this alternative were available.  New low-tech, low staffing-intensity programs for people with behavioral health challenges--like the living room model--should be explored and implemented if feasible.
  • Strengthen the relationship with the CCJTDC so that youth in the correctional system are connected to CCHHS services when they leave detention.
  • Explore ways that CCDPH and CDPH can work more closely, including the option of merging as many systems around the country have successfully done.
  • Continue to collaborate with others across the county to work toward insurance coverage for those not currently covered.
  • Continue to identify ways the system can address root causes and upstream determinants of health, such as Adverse Childhood Experiences, identified in your plan.  We are now working with Advocate ACO and Aetna to develop plans for ensuring that every person in their workforce is trauma- and ACE-informed because they too believe this will better address health problems early and prevent higher costs later in life.
  • Be a leader in pushing the state to identify ways they can leverage federal resources for things like behavioral health.

 View her full remarks here.  You can learn more about the strategic plan and next steps here.