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#FamiliesBelongTogether: Health & Medicine and the Illinois ACEs Response Collaborative Releases Statement on Child Separation

Jun 22, 2018

Health & Medicine Policy Research Group and the Illinois ACEs Response Collaborative strongly condemn the forcible separation of children from their parents and caregivers who have crossed into the U.S. without authorization.  As a Collaborative committed to expanding the understanding of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and trauma, we know that the loss of a parent is an ACE that results in prolonged exposure to toxic stress and impacts health and wellbeing across the lifespan.  To promote healing and build resilience, children must be reunited with their parents and caregivers immediately, as research shows that these relationships are the most important factor in mitigating the impacts of ACEs and toxic stress.

While the recent executive order ends the practice of separating children at the border moving forward, it allows for the indefinite detainment of families together—which is sure to perpetuate ongoing trauma.  Additionally, there are over 2,300 children who remain separated from their parents.  We have yet to see plans outlining how these families will be reunited.  We call for an immediate remedy for this cruel and inhumane situation to prevent further harm and to begin the process of healing for these children and families.

Health & Medicine Welcomes 2018-19 Schweitzer Fellows

Jun 07, 2018

Thirty exceptional health professions graduate students have been selected for the prestigious Schweitzer Fellowship – a year-long service learning program that empowers Fellows to design and implement projects that help address the health needs of underserved Chicago communities.

Named in honor of famed humanitarian and Nobel laureate Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows Program encourages students to become lifelong leaders in service by helping to address unmet health needs among vulnerable Chicagoland residents. In collaboration with existing community organizations, each Schweitzer Fellow will launch a community-based project, providing 200 hours of service. Using a broad public health lens, the new Fellows will work to improve community wellbeing and target the social determinants of health—the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age that have a profound impact on health and quality of life. Projects include:

•    Establishing a holistic wellness and life-skills program for homeless youth to encourage academic achievement
•    Supporting the health of uninsured/underinsured Hispanic patients with type 2 diabetes
•    Initiating a psychoeducation program for Chinese immigrant caregivers of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities
•    Click here to learn more about the Fellows and their service projects

Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach, the Fellowship exposes students to real-world inter-professional, collaborative care and aims to develop lifelong leaders in service. The 2018-19 Fellows include students from 10 area universities and 20 academic programs, ranging from nursing to disability studies and public health. The exceptional class of Fellows was selected from a pool of almost 100 applicants through a competitive process.

“I was inspired to apply for the Schweitzer Fellowship by its dedication to social justice,” shared Fellow Amanda Dobron, a student of East Asian Medicine at the Pacifica College of Oriental Medicine. “As a service learning Fellowship, they go beyond asking applicants to develop a project for an underserved community and instead give Fellows tremendous support in developing and implementing those projects.”

In addition to their service projects, Dobron and her peers in the Fellows will also participate in a thirteen-month Program that includes monthly meetings, trainings, and ongoing opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration as well as support from a team of mentors from their schools and project sites as well as mentors from our alumni network and the Schweitzer Fellowship Advisory Council which oversees the program.

“The Schweitzer Fellows Program serves a very important purpose that benefits both Fellows and underserved communities. The Chicago Program has done an excellent job in promoting the Fellowship and supporting Fellows throughout their program to ensure they have the resources they need to be successful,” said recent Faculty Mentor Elizabeth Aquino, PhD, RN, of DePaul University School of Nursing. “The best part of the mentoring experiencing is seeing the Fellows’ project ideas come to reality and the impact they have made within the community,” she added.

The new Fellows join a network of over 600 Chicago Program alumni who have provided over 120,000 hours of community service to more than 150 community groups over the course of the Program’s twenty plus year history.

“The Schweitzer Fellowship was an instrumental part of my medical school experience—both the work I did in the community, but possibly more importantly the relationships I formed with students from other disciplines and other schools. I am glad to continue to support the Fellowship as a member of the Advisory Council and to welcome this new cohort of Fellows to the Schweitzer community,” said Elizabeth Salisbury-Afshar, MD. In addition to serving on the Schweitzer Advisory Council, Dr. Salisbury-Afshar is an alumna of the Fellowship as well as a board member at Health & Medicine Policy Research Group, the non-profit health policy center that administers the Chicago Fellowship.

"In the face of ongoing uncertainty in our health care system and increased threats to our most marginalized citizens, the role of our Schweitzer Fellows as ambassadors of hope is more important than ever," said Margie Schaps, Executive Director of Health & Medicine. “This sort of community impact is only possible through the steadfast commitment of the many individuals, academic institutions, and local foundations that support this program including the Baxter International Foundation, the Michael Reese Health Trust, and the VNA Foundation. We are deeply grateful for their generosity as we welcome this dynamic group of Fellows to the Schweitzer community.”

#HistoryMatters: Health & Medicine to Celebrate Juneteenth

Jun 06, 2018

On June 19, 2018, for the first time in the organization’s history, Health & Medicine Policy Research Group will be celebrating Juneteenth, a day regarded as the oldest national celebration of African American liberation in the United States. While the official date of the Emancipation Proclamation was 1863, Juneteenth commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the remote territory of Texas over two years later on June 19, 1865.

While Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in forty-five states, it rarely gets the recognition of other national celebrations. Yet honoring this day is an important part of recognizing the role our history plays in shaping public health and health inequities.

The definition of health equity that we use at Health & Medicine requires that those working to advance equity value all individuals and populations equally and work to recognize and rectify historical injustices. Our decision to celebrate Juneteenth honors that work by holding a day regarded as African American Independence Day equal to other holidays.

At Health & Medicine, we believe that historical context matters to health equity and that celebrating Juneteenth is a step towards recognizing the full scope of American history and the unfinished work of advancing racial justice.

If you share our commitment to health equity and recognizing and rectifying historical injustices, won’t you join us in celebrating Juneteenth?

As part of our celebrations, we’re pleased to share the following resources:

-Juneteenth is African American Independence Day and it's past time that we celebrate it by Tiffany N. Ford
-What is Juneteenth? Links, Resources, and Local Celebrations
-Check back soon as we add more resources

New Reports Focus on Helping the Safety Net Navigate the Challenges and Opportunity of Health Reform

May 04, 2018

Health & Medicine's Health Equity Initiative recently completed research examining how the ACA and state level health reforms can support the move toward health equity and stronger communities in the Chicago area with a specific focus on the Western Suburbs. This research led to two papers that are available now:

Beyond the Clinic: A National Health Equity Review
This policy and practice review of national work examines how the safety net can use this time of health reform to shift toward addressing social determinants of health, structural determinants of health inequities, and ultimately health equity.

While there are ample studies and papers detailing clinical care interventions and programs to provide more services to meet unaddressed needs, these studies rarely focus on the need for large safety net institutions to utilize their individual and collective political power to change the structural inequities that drive the inequitable distribution of social determinants of health. To make a new contribution to the trajectory of healthcare’s interest in advancing health equity, this paper addresses how the power of the health sector—which represents roughly 18% of the U.S. economy—could be better used to influence structural drivers of inequities.

A Qualitative Review of Chicago’s West Suburban Safety Net: Consequences, Adaptation, and Recommendations for Future Reform
This study extends previous research examining the impact of the ACA and state Medicaid expansion on the safety net. The paper analyzes how the current political context is impacting the safety net sector while also examining overall adaptations to health reform, understanding its consequences, and identifying safety net stakeholders’ policy and philanthropy recommendations for future reform. This research focused specifically on the safety net in western suburbs and was based on key informant interviews with executive leadership and focus groups with staff from thirteen area FQHCs, hospitals, free and charitable clinics, insurers, and community-based organizations. In addition to qualitative analysis, our report offers policy and practice recommendations to help address the challenges of reform at the institutional, state, and federal level.