Newswise — The University of Chicago Medicine provided $567.1 million in benefits and services to the South Side community in fiscal 2020, according to its annual Community Benefit Report.
This investment represents a 9.2% increase over fiscal 2019 ($519.5 million) and includes uncompensated care, charity services, unrecoverable patient debt, medical education and research and other community support.
UChicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial in Harvey, Illinois, contributed $89.5 million in community benefit investment to the Southland region in fiscal 2020, compared to $71 million the previous year.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the stark health disparities affecting our Black and Brown communities, which bore the heaviest burden through illness, loss of life and economic hardship,” said Brenda Battle, RN, BSN, MBA, UChicago Medicine’s Senior Vice President for Community Health Transformation and its Chief Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Officer. “UChicago Medicine continues to prioritize and invest in measures to improve health equity, strengthen our partnerships and grow the resources needed to transform healthcare on Chicago’s South Side and the health and well-being of all of its residents.”
Community benefit programs and partnerships are guided by the Urban Health Initiative, the Medical Center’s division that works with community organizations on health-related programs, research and services. UChicago Medicine’s Community Advisory Council, led by civic and faith leaders, also provides guidance to the Medical Center on key community health concerns, including racial disparities and social determinants of health.
Utilizing a new, completely digital format, the 2020 Community Benefit Report highlights UChicago Medicine’s community programs, partnerships, and initiatives dedicated to improving health equity and addressing the South Side’s top health priorities. These include chronic disease (asthma and diabetes), violence prevention and trauma resiliency, as well as social determinants of health — underlying contributors to health disparities and chronic disease, such as education level, poverty, unemployment, violence and community safety, access to care and food insecurity.
These community health priorities were identified through UChicago Medicine’s 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA). Conducted every three years, the CHNA is used to make decisions on where to commit resources that improve community members’ health and wellness. The 2019 CHNA also features community profiles of 27 South Side community areas and include demographic data and information on social determinants of health, as well as health behaviors, outcomes and resources. The next Community Health Needs Assessment will be conducted this year and reported in 2022.
The 2020 Community Benefit Report also shows how the South Side-based academic health system responded to the needs of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic through PPE donations, food pantries, COVID-19 testing patient contact tracing, phase 3 vaccine trials, emergency relief funding and educational resources.
“Over the course of the pandemic, our faculty and staff worked to respond with care, compassion and innovation to reimagine how we provided patient care, conducted research, partnered with our neighbors, and delivered health programs, education and resources to meet heightened community need,” said Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, Dean and Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs. “We remain committed to providing world-class clinical care, promoting the highest standards for research and education and making the needed investments to significantly advance health equity.”
- In June 2020, UChicago Medicine and more than 40 Chicago healthcare organizations took a health equity pledge and committed to seven action steps to overcome health disparities in minority communities. The open letter was published in the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune.
- UChicago Medicine announced a system-wide Equity Plan to identify and address inequities in the workforce, work climate, healthcare delivery/services and community.
- Along with St. Bernard Hospital and Advocate Trinity Hospital, UChicago Medicine launched the South Side Health Transformation Project to bring together federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), faith leaders, community organizations, elected officials and residents to secure state funding and support for a new plan that provides a better system of care. Nearly 500 people have participated in the effort. A state decision on funding for the plan is expected in the coming weeks.
Community Health Priorities
- Asthma: Community health workers (CHWs) made 830 in-person and virtual visits to 279 children and families to provide asthma education (via the South Side Pediatric Asthma Center). CHWs also provided 124 families with food, transportation and supplies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Trauma resiliency:
- 1,500 patients and 586 families were served by the Violence Recovery Program, a part of the Block Hassenfeld Casdin Collaborative for Family Resilience.
- Southland RISE (Resilience Initiative to Strengthen and Empower) hosted a violence prevention summit in 2020; the group is a collaboration between UChicago Medicine, Advocate Health Care and other community groups. It was inspired by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin’s Chicago HEAL (Hospital Engagement, Action and Leadership) program. Southland RISE also awarded $100,000 to 14 South Side grassroots organizations for their summer violence prevention programs.
Workforce and Community Investment
Together with UChicago Medicine, the University of Chicago is the largest private employer on the South Side, with 24% of the total workforce residing in its South Side service area. In fiscal 2020, UChicago Medicine spent $20.8 million with certified minority- and woman-owned construction and construction-related firms, through contracts awarded and paid, with $4.3 million in wages going to minority and female construction workers. Since 2019, funds granted for local hiring has totaled $22 million, leading to 76 local hires (for minimum three- to five-year living wage jobs).
To view the full Community Benefit Report, visit community.uchicagomedicine.org/2020.