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  • 4 Dec 2023 8:12 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    America’s mental-health crisis drove suicides to a record-high number last year. [WSJ] 

    Nearly 50,000 people in the U.S. lost their lives to suicide in 2022, according to a provisional tally from the National Center for Health Statistics. The agency said the final count would likely be higher. The suicide rate of 14.3 deaths per 100,000 people reached its highest level since 1941. 

    U.S. suicides per 100,000Source: National Center for Health Statistics Note: Provisional for 2022

     record reflects broad struggles to help people in mental distress following a pandemic that killed more than one million in the U.S., upended the economy and left many isolated and afraid. A shortage of healthcare workers, an increasingly toxic illicit drug supply and the ubiquity of firearms have facilitated the rise in suicides, mental-health experts said.

    “There was a rupture in our economic health and social fabric. We’re still experiencing the aftereffects of that,” said Jeffrey Leichter, a psychologist who connects mental health and primary care at Sanford Health, an operator of hospitals and clinics in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Iowa.

    Men 75 and older had the highest suicide rate last year at nearly 44 per 100,000 people, double that for people 15-24. Firearm-related suicides become more common with age as people experience declining health, the loss of loved ones and social isolation. While women have consistently been found to have suicidal thoughts more commonly, men are four times as likely to die by suicide

    U.S. suicide rates per 100,000, by age Source: National Center for Health Statistics*Prov

    Some groups remain at extreme risk. Suicide rates for American Indians and Alaska Natives are almost double the rates for other Americans. 

    But there is some evidence that efforts to reach people in crisis are helping. Suicide rates for children 10-14 and people 15-24 declined by 18% and 9%, respectively, last year from 2021, bringing suicide rates in those groups back to prepandemic levels.

    Life expectancy in the U.S. improved to 77.5 years in 2022 from 76.4 in 2021, largely because of fewer deaths from Covid-19, a separate report from the statistics agency showed. In 2021, life expectancy in the U.S. fell to the lowest level since 1996 after Covid-19 and opioid overdoses drove up deaths.

    Adults are learning how to talk to children about suicide, said Dr. Katie Hurley, senior clinical adviser at the Jed Foundation, a suicide-prevention group. More work is necessary to reach women 25-34, she said. They were the only group of women for which suicide rates increased significantly in 2022. 

    “They’re taking on young adulthood while the world is on fire,” Hurley said. 

    Officials are trying to widen familiarity with a national Suicide and Crisis Lifeline that received a nationwide number, 988, last year. About 6% of some 5,000 respondents in a study published in October in the journal JAMA Network Open reported using 988 when they were in serious psychological distress. About a third of them said they would use the lifeline in the future. 

    Mental-health care is harder to find than before the pandemic. About half of people in the U.S. live in an area without a mental-health professional, federal data show, and some 8,500 more would be needed to fill the gap. Most people rely on family doctors for mental-health care, said Leichter at Sanford Health. 

    Suicides are difficult to predict even by clinicians, research shows. 

    Talkspace, an online therapy provider, is using artificial intelligence to help mental-health providers identify patients at risk for suicide. New York City this month said it would make a Talkspace app called TeenSpace available free to teenagers 13-17.

    “People are feeling worse,” said Dr. Nikole Benders-Hadi, a psychiatrist and Talkspace’s chief medical officer. “That’s why people are using these services more.”

    Help is available: Reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) by dialing or texting 988.


  • 1 Dec 2023 11:26 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    President Joe Biden’s administration is moving to require utilities to replace every toxic lead pipe connecting homes to water mains during the next decade, though Chicago and several other cities likely will get more time to finish the job. [Chicago Tribune]

    Ingesting tiny concentrations of lead can permanently damage the developing brains of children and contribute to heart disease, kidney failure and other health problems later in life. One study estimated more than 400,000 deaths a year in the U.S. are linked to lead exposure.

    For decades dust from lead-based paint has been considered the chief source of exposure to the toxic metal. But in recent years the largely hidden threat of lead water pipes has become more widely understood, driven in part by federal research in Chicago and a crisis in Flint, Michigan, that showed how the simple act of drinking a glass of unfiltered tap water can pose significant health risks.



  • 30 Nov 2023 12:31 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

     On behalf of the Department of Public  Health, I am excited to present to you the second piece of our Healthy Illinois 2028 initiative: the Illinois State Health Improvement Plan. [11.2023 IDPH]

    The State Health Improvement Plan looks different than in previous versions. As the State of Illinois moves forward after the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency, we know that this is a crucial moment in Illinois’s public health story – a time in our history to write new chapters and think differently about how we view and can improve our health today and in the years ahead.

    For me, [Dr. S. Vohra, MD]public health has always been about community. Yes, it is about keeping us safe from infectious diseases and preventing future emergencies. Those issues will always be core state priorities. However, at its heart, public health is so much more. Public health is about us coming together to unify around the health of ourselves and our loved ones. It is about the incredible residents in our big, diverse, and unique state. When we do public health right, our residents can be well and live well – enjoying the people and activities that make Illinois so special.

    Our State Health Improvement Plan concentrates on five areas that Illinois will make a priority in moving our health forward from 2023-2028. This initial release of the State Health Improvement Plan brings to our Illinois residents a framework for action.

    Download full plan here>


  • 29 Nov 2023 9:38 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The Health Equity in Organized Medicine Survey (HEIOM) provides insight into actions organized medicine is taking to advance health equity. We surveyed the AMA Federation of Medicine, comprised primarily of specialty societies and state/territorial medical associations, in January 2023. The survey collected Action Insights and identified barriers and resources needed to take action. [AMA]

    This report presents our initial findings. We organize the results by the steps for collective and coordinated actions of the Rise to Health Coalition (see page 6):

    • Get grounded in history and your local context
    • Identify opportunities for improvement
    • Make equity a strategic priority
    • Take initiative
    • Align, invest, and advocate for thriving communities

    Download full report here> 

    You may be interested in the 9th State of health of Chicago- more details here>


  • 28 Nov 2023 9:17 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released The U.S. Playbook to Address Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) to address social and environmental impacts on public health. The Biden Administration recognizes that addressing public health needs requires a multidisciplinary approach and has expressed their commitment to doing so. SDOH addresses important issues such as housing and food security, education access, and a healthy environment. It recognizes three pillars as a starting point for addressing these topics, including improving data collection in health care, public health, social care services, and other data systems, providing funding to address social needs, and supporting organizations that provide relevant support to the outlined issues. The playbook is intended to be the starting point and the Administration is expected to continue developing solutions for this mission. 



  • 27 Nov 2023 10:10 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    263. That’s the number of women in Illinois who died during pregnancy or within one year of giving birth over a three-year period, according to a recent state report. [Chicago Sun-Times]

    718. That’s the number of infants who died in Illinois in 2022, according to data released earlier this month by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nationwide, there were 20,538 deaths last year, a 3% increase over 2021 — the largest percentage increase in infant mortality in more than two decades. 

    If that’s not enough evidence we are failing pregnant mothers and their babies, a new report by the March of Dimes offers still more sobering figures. The report gives Illinois a grade of D+ for the number of preterm births in 2022. Out of 128,315 births last year, 10.57% — or 12,139 babies — were born prematurely, putting our state’s youngest residents and their mothers at risk for all sorts of health issues, not to mention premature death.

    And these numbers continue to be even more alarming for women and babies of color, especially Black women and infants. The preterm birth rate for Black women in Illinois is 1.6 times higher than the rate among all other women, according to the March of Dimes report.

    “It’s unfortunate that we only see a modest improvement” in pre-births nationally and locally, Elizabeth Oladeinde, director of maternal and child health for the March of Dimes’ Chicago office, told us. “We know more work needs to be done.”



  • 22 Nov 2023 10:13 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Ashton Glover Gatewood decided to give medical school a second try after learning about a new campus designed for Indigenous students like herself. [MedBound Times]

    The program is also focused on expanding the number of doctors from all backgrounds who serve rural or tribal communities.

    Gatewood is now set to be part of the first graduating class at Oklahoma State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation. Leaders say the physician training program is the only one on a Native American reservation and affiliated with a tribal government.

    “This is the school that is everything that I need to be successful,” said Gatewood, a member of the Choctaw Nation who also has Cherokee and Chickasaw ancestry. “Literally, the campus, the curriculum, the staff — everything was built and hired and prepared and planned for you.” 



  • 21 Nov 2023 10:28 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente and the American Hospital Association are among a number of groups uniting to form a new coalition that aims to strengthen the partnership between health systems and public health. [Becker's Hospital Review]

    <Dr. Bechara  Choucair,, MD, KP, is the keynote speaker at the 9th State of Health of Chicago on Dec. 14, 2023 at the Grand Lux Cafe, Chicago. More details here>

    The Common Health Coalition: Together for Public Health, which also involves the Alliance of Community Health Plans, the American Medical Association and AHIP, is focused on translating the "hard-won lessons" of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic to improve public health outcomes.

    The coalition will initially focus on four areas:

    1. Greater coordination between public health and healthcare systems
    2. Building shared, well-maintained emergency preparedness plans
    3. Establishing national standards for healthcare data that help identify health disparities
    4. Modernizing infectious disease detection

    "The lessons we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic remain as urgent as ever and health care and public health institutions are ready to act on them," said Bechara Choucair, MD, coalition steering committee member and senior vice president and chief health officer at Kaiser Permanente. "Supporting a strong public health system is a foundational part of Kaiser Permanente's commitment to promoting health equity and improving the health of our members, and the Common Health Coalition is a powerful vehicle for advancing that mission."

    More details on the coalition's work can be found here.


  • 20 Nov 2023 5:30 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Chicago is trying to make it easier for people to get a lifesaving drug — for free. Five vending machines have been strategically placed throughout the city and will carry Narcan, the drug that can reverse an opioid overdose.

    The pilot program was funded by the CDC with a $17 million dollar grant to distribute vending machines across the city. The machines will hold more than just Narcan including hygienic products including socks and undergarments.



  • 17 Nov 2023 1:58 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Thursday the state will spend an additional $160 million as part of an urgent effort to care for the more than 21,200 migrants who are at risk of dying on Chicago’s streets once winter weather settles over the city. [Health News Illinois] 

    Pritzker’s announcement, which will use funds already appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly for the Illinois Department of Human Services, comes after months of pleas from Chicago officials for the governor and state officials to take a more active role in addressing the humanitarian crisis engulfing the city.

    With the federal government unwilling to act, Illinois has no choice but to step in because lives are at stake, said Pritzker, who blasted Congress for “abdicating” its responsibility toward immigrants to the United States amid a political fight.

    “Everything we can do, we must do,” Pritzker said, adding that people must move through the system to permanent housing much faster. "The state that took my ancestors in fleeing from pogroms in Ukraine will not allow asylum seekers to freeze to death on our doorsteps."

    The plan outlined by state officials calls for $65 million to be used to erect a temporary “soft-sided” shelter that could house some of the more than 2,400 migrants living in police stations across the city and at O’Hare International Airport waiting for a bed to open up in a city shelter, according to city data updated Wednesday morning. 

    No location has been identified for that shelter, which will house as many as 2,000 people, and be run by Chicago, Prtizker said said. 

    "Now that we are very close to winter, it is clear the city needs more help," Pritzker said.



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