“Lurie Children’s provides healthcare to all children, regardless of their ability to pay. But achieving a healthier future for every child requires more than providing the best healthcare,” says Matthew Davis, MD, MAPP, Interim Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and the Interim President & Chief Research Officer of the Manne Research Institute at Lurie Children’s, as well as Chief of Community Health Transformation. “We know that for most kids in Chicago, their zip code impacts their health more than their genetic code. That’s why we’re linking our clinical work to community-focused initiatives.”
Community health transformation is a long-term commitment, and Lurie Children’s dedication to children’s health and well-being, inside and outside the walls of the hospital, is over 135 years strong. Clinicians and researchers leverage their expertise to improve health equity in Chicago. By creating strong partnerships with communities, they work together to develop and implement evidence-based initiatives to help children thrive.
The Lurie Children’s Mobile Health Program launched in the fall of 2019, traveling to under-resourced communities in Chicago to deliver both clinical and health promotion services. The program started out serving Chicago Public School students who need school physicals and immunizations to be able to stay in school. In just three months, this program helped an elementary school in the Austin community advance their health requirement compliance rates from 60 to more than 80 percent.
The Mobile Health Program is an opportunity for Lurie Children’s experts to provide urgently needed clinical services, as well as to connect youth to primary care providers and community services in their neighborhood. As it grows, we will expand our reach beyond schools to parks, libraries, and community-based organizations to reach other youth with limited access to care.
Maddy Ray’s parents found her cancerous liver tumor terrifying enough. Then they learned their insurance wouldn’t cover the surgery to remove it with Lurie Children’s world-renowned liver and kidney surgeon Riccardo Superina, MD. Fortunately, as a nonprofit hospital, Lurie Children’s aims to never turn away a child because of inability to pay. In fact, the hospital spends over $130 million a year in uncompensated care costs, partially supported by philanthropy. This means that the hospital absorbs the portion of specialized services that private insurance or Medicaid will not cover, removing the burden from families.
Thirty years ago, a group of idealistic medical students, including Karen Sheehan, MD, MPH, founded a nonprofit organization to address the physical, emotional and social health of children living in Cabrini-Green. Now called Chicago Youth Programs (CYP) and led by Dr. Sheehan, Medical Director of Lurie Children’s Healthy Communities, the organization provides comprehensive services to more than 700 youth annually in several under-resourced neighborhoods in Chicago. Through the CYP clinic, Lurie Children’s provides ongoing primary care and mental health services for program participants, as well as access to tutoring, mentoring, arts, college prep and scholarship programs.
A recent study on the long-term impact of CYP found that participants were almost twice as likely to have a better standard of living compared to their parents. They were almost twice as likely to have good health and more than twice as likely to earn a college degree.
Dr. Davis is the A Todd Davis, MD Professor.
Dr. Superina is the Robert E. Schneider Chair in Transplantation.
Dr. Sheehan is the Arnold-Gorter Family Professor in Healthy Communities.