Health & Medicine: Highlights from 2019 – Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

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Health & Medicine: Highlights from 2019

December 16, 2019

Thank you for your support as we continue to bring people and organizations together to develop solutions to the health equity, health policy, and health systems challenges we face. Here are some highlights from 2019:

Center for Long-Term Care Reform

  • Ensured that aging issues are prioritized by the Pritzker administration by releasing Long-term Care Reform in Illinois: 2019 Agenda for Change identifying five priority areas of policy change—workforce, Medicaid managed care, nursing home safety and accountability, livable communities for all, and the growing population of aging immigrants.
  • Worked to strengthen the long-term care workforce, including family caregivers and paid workers, by gathering sector leaders for a roundtable to identify major policy priorities we can impact together.
  • Partnered with the Jewish United Fund to uncover strategies to help Holocaust survivors living in Chicagoland to maintain community living.

Center for Public Health Equity

  • Forum proceedings from our event, Creating A Health Equity Agenda for Chicago’s Elections, were among the input documents for Healthy Chicago 2025, the next community health assessment and community health improvement plan for the City of Chicago.
  • Developed the Organizing Health institute, a training program focused on teaching health workers basic skills in organizing to build power for health equity and integrating a health lens into their work; the program is supported through a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Leaders
  • Held a roundtable convening for journalists and other media professionals to challenge the stigma associated with opioid use disorders providing information on harm reduction practices and arming reporters with tools and information to cover opioid use with an anti-racist lens.
  • Called upon to lend a public health perspective to efforts to decommission the Cook County and Chicago gang databases which contribute to racist policing. We were proud to link arms with groups like Organized Communities Against Deportations, West Suburban Action Project, and CTUCWP to pass this ordinance which aligns with our belief that police violence is a public health issue.

Chicago Area Health Education Center (AHEC) and Healthcare Workforce

  • Helped spark interest in and support for CPS students pursuing health careers and expanded our reach through new partnerships with Communities in Schools & Gear Up.
  • Conducted research on career pathways for frontline healthcare staff working to ensure these health professionals have a livable wage, an equitable job, and opportunities for development.
  • Recruited our inaugural class of 30 AHEC Scholars, a program that offers health professions students opportunities to refine their career choices and learn how health professionals from different disciplines can work together.
  • Created a roadmap for interventions to increase the representation of African American men in Chicago medical schools, exploring solutions that can be applied across sectors and disciplines to create a diverse health workforce.
  • Served as the key convener developing a Community Health Worker learning collaborative in the Western Suburbs aimed at promoting health equity and reducing disparities by increasing awareness of health and human service resources and connecting people to services.

Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows Program

  • Supported 29 Fellows in completing the Program this spring. The 2018-19 Fellows provided over 6,000 hours of service to 3,600 marginalized community members, adding to the over 150,000 service hours the Fellowship has provided over its history.
  • Continued our successful seed grant program which enables Fellows for Life to start or build onto community service projects. Through projects ranging from a mentorship program for underrepresented community college students including DACA students, to an effort focused on increasing engagement and access to health careers among urban youth from historically underrepresented groups in medicine, 486 community members were impacted by seed grant projects last year.

Health Reform and Safety Net Transformation

  • Continued monitoring the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and other health reforms, seeking information on positive and unanticipated consequences of reform, challenges, and ideas for policy and practice improvements.
  • Worked with the Chicago Housing Justice League to support a strong five-year housing plan, with proper funding and recommendations for safe, accessible, affordable, and healthy housing. Health & Medicine continues to support the demands through ongoing advocacy with regard to inclusive housing.
  • Presented testimony to the Cook County Board in support of a fully funded Cook County Health and its critical role taking care of all in need.
  • Stood with the broader public health community in opposition to the Trump Administration’s “public charge” rule which threatens to punish people seeking permanent resident status in the U.S. if they use public supports to meet their family’s basic health, housing, and nutrition needs.

IL Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Response Collaborative

  • Informed legislation that established Illinois’s first Trauma-Informed Awareness Day on May 15th and led mobilization efforts to engage stakeholders across the State through a press conference in Springfield, a training in Chicago, and an extensive social media campaign.
  • Released a Trauma-Informed Policymaking Tool, the first of its kind applying the principles of the trauma-informed approach to policymaking.
  • Co-hosted the city’s first Trauma-Informed Chicago Summit with CDPH welcoming over 500 people to create a collective vision for a Trauma-Informed Chicago.
  • Continued to lead the country’s first Trauma-Informed Hospital Workgroup to provide training on ACEs, trauma, and resilience to 18 area health systems helping them become anchor institutions for addressing ACEs in their communities.
  • Provided trainings on ACEs, trauma, resilience, and trauma-informed care to more than 3,600 people so far this year from community-based organizations, hospitals, FQHCs, schools, legal advocacy organizations, foundations, and more.

In addition to these achievements, Health & Medicine continues to:

  • Train the next generation of public health advocates through mentorship of interns from a variety of fields including public health, social work, law, medicine, and public policy.
  • Speak regularly to the media, to universities, and at public events on a myriad of public health and health system reform topics.
  • Write opinion pieces, letters to the editor, and blog posts.