Linking Clinic and Community

Why access to care needs our attention

In Chicago, children and families living in disinvested neighborhoods have less access to the resources and services they need to stay healthy. They experience higher rates of chronic conditions like asthma, obesity, and diabetes, as well as preterm birth, low birthweight and teen pregnancy. At Lurie Children's, we know that improving child and adolescent health requires more than providing healthcare at our main hospital. Parents and families need access to expert clinical care, evidence-based health education and trusted referrals to community-based services closer to home. 

What Lurie Children’s is doing to improve access to care

Lurie Children’s works to find innovative ways to extend our clinical expertise out into Chicago communities. We do this by partnering with communities to strengthen existing clinical programs and fill the gap when more services are needed. We analyze data and listen to community members so that we can focus our efforts on the neighborhoods that need us most.

Mobile Health program

Our Mobile Health program brings high quality clinical services and multifaceted culturally informed health promotion directly into Chicago communities. The Mobile Health program provides healthcare services delivered by Lurie Children’s physicians and allied health professionals working out of an easily accessible mobile unit. Services include school physicals, sports physicals, immunizations, well-child visits, COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, and asthma care. These services take place at several different community partner settings (based on community need) as well as at neighborhood Chicago Public Schools.

In August 2023, the Mobile Health program unveiled a new, state-of-the-art unit equipped with running water, bathroom facilities, a wheelchair ramp, internet access, multiple clinic rooms and other enhanced features. The larger mobile unit will allow providers to serve more patients and increase the type of clinical services offered. Renowned artist Rafael Lopez created the exterior design of the unit to reflect what community means to the youth of Chicago after meetings with Lurie Children’s patients and workforce development programs.

The new mobile health unit was funded through the Congressionally Directed Spending program with Senator Durbin’s leadership. Lurie Children’s mobile health program is generously supported by ALDI, Dorothea Berggren Charitable Foundation, CVS Health, Fifth Third Bank, Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Andy and Nancy Mills, Vivo Foundation and the Chicago Department of Public Health.

The Mobile Health program also partners with Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) located in Chicago’s under-resourced neighborhoods, where almost all pediatric patients are insured by Medicaid. FQHCs are Lurie Children’s primary partners in meeting the health care needs of children in under-resourced communities. These partnerships allow us to extend the reach of Lurie Children’s to care for more children in more innovative ways. For example, we work with FQHCs to extend telehealth care to families when they cannot be there in person, and to provide enhanced care coordination, so that families with complex health care needs can easily navigate the health care system in ways that work best for them. Additionally, we offer education and training for FQHC faculty, which can lead to an expansion in the range of expertise and services that these core community-based providers can offer to help keep children in their communities healthy and out of the hospital.

Chicago Youth Programs

Through our 30+ year partnership with Chicago Youth Programs (CYP), we aim to improve the health and life opportunities of at-risk youth through a unique and evidence-informed program that combines comprehensive healthcare with positive youth activities like mentoring, tutoring, leadership development and recreational programs. Through the CYP Clinic, youth can meet regularly with a Lurie Children’s physician and through CYP youth programming they can meet one-on-one with a volunteer tutor every week. The CYP model works to engage with children at a young age and stay with them through college. This combination of sustained services and support is a positive step towards improved health and educational outcomes that can give a child the best chance for a healthy prosperous life.

All Hands Health Network

In 2019, Lurie Children’s was one of only eight recipients nationwide to receive funding from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to develop Integrated Care for Kids, a new model of care that aims to improve health outcomes and reduce costs of care for children covered by Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In partnership with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) and community-based organizations, Lurie Children’s launched the All Hands Health Network (AHHN) in January 2022. The AHHN is a socially and clinically integrated network that aims to serve up to 43,000 children and their families living in the Belmont Cragin and Austin neighborhoods of Chicago. The network brings together local pediatricians, specialists, behavioral health providers and community organizations to address the medical and social needs of children and their families.

Our impact on access to care

  • Since its launch, the Mobile Health unit has been utilized by many Lurie Children’s divisions and plans are in place to expand the types of services it provides.
    • Lurie Children's Potocsnak Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine uses the Mobile Health unit to conduct HIV/STI screening, sexual health education, and naloxone trainings and distribution across Chicago.

    • Lurie Children's Division of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine visits Chicago communities with high rates of asthma. Through the unit, each patient family is seen by a pulmonary provider, asthma nurse, asthma educator and social worker – the same care that they would receive at the hospital or at one of our satellite locations.

  • The Mobile Health program was instrumental in Lurie Children's pandemic response and provided COVID-19 testing and immunizations for 1,500+ youth and school/childcare staff in communities most serverely impacted. 
  • Over 1,000 youth participate annually in our Chicago Youth Programs Clinic and positive youth development programs. High retention with sustained involvement throughout childhood, avoidance of at-risk behaviors such as teen pregnancy and delinquency, school achievement, over 90% high school graduation rates (3X community rates)and college placement rates at or near 100% all support the program’s effectiveness.
  • A 33-year follow-up revealed that Chicago Youth Program alumni graduated college at twice the rate of their peers who did not participate. Alumni were also more likely to save money at the end of the month and report a better standard of living than their parents.