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  • 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.



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

    As recently as 2018 Chicago officials denied the nation’s third largest city has a widespread problem with brain-damaging lead in drinking water, even though testing kits distributed by the city revealed high levels of the toxic metal in every neighborhood. [Chicago Tribune]

    City officials pressed on, replacing hundreds of miles of water mains and installing scores of water meters, despite evidence the work made it more likely Chicagoans would ingest lead during the simple act of drinking a glass of tap water.

    Times have finally changed. Not only did Mayor Brandon Johnson promise during his campaign to replace lead pipes known as service lines, his administration followed up by securing a $336 million federal loan to help pay for swapping thousands of them with safer copper pipes.

    Combined with a required city match of roughly the same amount, to be financed with general obligation bonds, an estimated 30,000 of the city’s 400,000 lead service lines will be replaced during the next three years.



  • 15 Nov 2023 5:24 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Just under 25% of Illinois hospitals earned A grades this fall from hospital safety nonprofit The Leapfrog Group, including 18% of Chicago’s 22 eligible hospitals.[Chicago Tribune]

    The grades examine safety procedures at general hospitals nationwide, focusing on prevention of medical errors, accidents and infections. 

    Leapfrog tracks bloodstream infections associated with central lines, which deliver medicine and other fluids intravenously. The nonprofit also tracks MRSA, a type of staph infection that resists most antibiotics, as well as urinary tract infections associated with catheters.

    The nonprofit focuses on similar criteria to those collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, said Dr. Lakshmi Halasyamani, system chief clinical officer at NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health.

    This fall’s scores are the first to be considered post-pandemic, as there is some delay between when safety data happens and when it is collected, analyzed and scored. Preventable infections in hospitals spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic, but are now trending downward in Leapfrog-graded hospitals, said Leah Binder, CEO of The Leapfrog Group.



  • 14 Nov 2023 8:18 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Mental health funding that voters approved last year would be saved from a do-over after Illinois lawmakers voted to validate multiple referendums despite concerns that ballots were improperly written. [Chicago Tribune] 

    The measure would uphold referendums held by five suburban townships and Will County that created mental health boards to levy taxes for mental health programs.

    “We’ve seen the value residents place on mental health care — they already approved the tax increases that will fund the creation of these community mental health boards,” said sponsoring state Sen. Ann Gillespie, a Democrat from Arlington Heights. “By validating these boards, municipalities can levy the taxes to allow the boards to function as intended.”

    The bill approved Wednesday, if signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, would allow mental health funding in Addison, Lisle, Naperville, Schaumburg and Wheeling townships, as well as Will County.



  • 14 Nov 2023 7:31 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Mayor Brandon Johnson announced Monday [that] he has appointed Dr. Olusimbo "Simbo" Ige to become the new commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. [WLS and ABC7]

    Dr. Ige currently works as the managing director of programs at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and has previously served as the Assistant Commissioner for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

    "Dr. Ige is a tremendous addition to not just our administration, but to the City of Chicago," said Mayor Johnson. "Dr. Ige is someone who understands the balance between hard data and community interaction when assessing public health problems and solutions, and with decades of experience in public health, she brings a clear-eyed understanding of both the challenges and the opportunities that CDPH and our city face, and how we will collectively overcome them.



  • 13 Nov 2023 12:56 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Chicago’s sanctuary city status, along with the rhetoric from its mayor, has made the city a mecca for migrants. Some Southern governors have treated this as an open invitation to transport migrants to the city. [Chicago Tribune] 

    More than 20,000 migrants have come to Chicago in the past 14 months, the Tribune recently reported. It has been left for Chicago to bear the brunt of the new arrivals to the state. In addition to Chicago’s self-designation as a sanctuary city, the 2017 Illinois TRUST Act made the state a sanctuary state and was amended in August 2021 to expand protections and, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s own description, further establish Illinois as the “most welcoming state in the nation.”

    Despite this status, the state has done little to regulate the influx of immigrants or where they end up, resulting in the city bearing the brunt. What can the state do to address this crisis?



  • 10 Nov 2023 2:10 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Illinois leaders are correct to focus on stepping up mental health services in schools in the wake of COVID-19, as our surveys demonstrate how dealing with the pandemic negatively affected students. But not all Illinoisans were disrupted the same way, and state leaders need to ensure that resources reach the children who were hardest hit. It is clear that the city of Chicago itself is the epicenter of this crisis. [Crain's]

    “The last few years have been challenging for all of us and this is especially true for our children,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker observed in August in announcing that the state is making $10 million in federal money available as grants. He understated.

    The need is clear. In a recent Harris Poll survey of Chicago-area parents of school-age children (ages 5-17), 90% said that the local, state and/or federal governments need to provide more aid to support students’ mental health, and 92% said that school districts ought to prioritize offering mental health services. Pluralities of these parents said that the pandemic harmed their child’s social health (42%) and emotional development (36%), while significant numbers also reported negative effects on behavioral development (35%) and academics (33%).



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