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  • 15 Sep 2022 8:06 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Racial mental health disparities cost the United States around $278 billion between 2016 and 2020, putting a price tag on a health equity issue that’s long plagued the nation, according to researchers from the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine with support from Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. [Patient Engagement HIT]

    The researchers looked at the national prevalence of mental health needs, care utilization, additional healthcare costs attributable to mental health disparities, and premature death across indigenous and racial or ethnic minorities. The analysis showed that, between 2016 and 2020, the US saw an excess of 117,000 premature deaths among indigenous and racial or ethnic minorities due to mental health needs.

    All said, the excess cost due to these mental health disparities was $278 billion. That additional cost burden links back to mental illness, substance use disorder (SUD), and suicide, the researchers said.

    These findings indicate that the healthcare industry needs to make more judicious investments in mental and behavioral healthcare, according to Daniel E. Dawes, JD, DHL (Hon).

    “Investing in mental healthcare saves lives and dollars — we have known this for decades, but until now did not fully understand the monumental impacts of neglecting to act,” Dawes, a professor and the executive director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute and author of the Political Determinants of Health, said in a statement.

    Full article here> 


  • 14 Sep 2022 2:21 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The DuPage County Board on Tuesday approved a $5 million allocation for food pantries to help the County’s neediest residents experiencing food insecurity.

    Members of the Board had received requests from local food pantries for funding, and at Tuesday’s Finance Committee meeting, they heard a presentation about the difficulties facing County food pantries, including a dramatic increase in the number of clients in need of food, increases in food costs, and a decrease in donations from food suppliers.

    The Board agreed to provide:

    • $1.75 million to Northern Illinois Food Bank to allow for the purchase of fresh produce, diapers, and personal hygiene and cleaning products for DuPage County food pantries.
    • $1 million to Northern Illinois Food Bank’s 46 partner agencies in DuPage County. A cash assistance distribution will be created and approved by the County Board in October.
    • $2.25 million for investments in distribution infrastructure, including refrigerated vehicles, distribution hub facilities, technology improvements, or future grant opportunities.

    Funds for the proposal were provided through the federal American Rescue Plan Act, which provided DuPage County with more than $179 million to assist with recovery efforts and expenses related to COVID-19.


  • 13 Sep 2022 7:05 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The number of children under age 19 without health insurance fell to 3.9 million in 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual report on health insurance coverage released today. That’s 475,000 fewer children without coverage than in 2020. [US Census Bureau]

    The uninsured rate among children decreased 0.6 percentage points to 5.0% between 2020 and 2021, driven by an increase in public coverage such as Medicaid and CHIP.

    Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2021 shows that children received coverage from a variety of sources. Most children (61.9%) had private coverage primarily through their parents’ plan (Figure 1) but a growing share above the poverty level were covered by public programs.

    Many lower-income children qualify for public health assistance programs, such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).



  • 12 Sep 2022 2:11 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Time to review influencers - where they live, how they can get to work and school, whether they can easily access health and other essential services, how they socialize with family members and friends, and ultimately if they can thrive in a physical environment that supports healthy outcomes.

    Some potential strategies and action steps include focusing on community design, street design and land use policies that make it easier for people to access physical activity, jobs and other essential services, and on the engagement of stakeholders in planning decisions.



  • 9 Sep 2022 5:15 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    A coalition of law enforcement groups renewed calls Wednesday for policymakers to allocate some of the millions of dollars headed to Illinois from opioid settlements to support early childhood programs.  [Health News Illinois] 

    Winnebago County State’s Attorney J. Hanley, speaking on behalf of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois, told reporters during a virtual press conference the best way funds can be used is for early interventions.
    "The research is very clear that, whether it's in the education context or the context we're talking about here, the earlier the intervention, the better,” Hanley said.
    Illinois officials earlier this summer laid out plans to spend the state’s roughly $760 million share of a nationwide opioid settlement with three drug distributors and a pharmaceutical company.
    That includes the creation of an officer within the Department of Human Services to administer the funds and ensure they align with the state’s opioid overdose action plan.
    Rock Island County State's Attorney Dora Villarreal said it's important to focus additional resources on programs that aid the most vulnerable residents.
    "We strongly believe that more needs to be done to protect all the children affected by this epidemic," she said.
    Law enforcement leaders issued a statement this spring calling for funds to be used to reduce the likelihood that children will grow up to abuse opioids and commit crimes.


  • 8 Sep 2022 11:27 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    So much loss...

    Carol Schumacher of the Navajo Nation had grappled with untimely deaths; her mother died at 65 of pulmonary disease, and her father died at the same age in a car crash caused by a drunken driver. But she was not prepared for the devastation of Covid: Since it arrived in the U.S. more than two years ago, she has lost 42 family members to the virus.

    Dealing with the massive death toll strained her own health, Schumacher told our colleagues. “I just wasn’t mentally prepared to deal with so much loss,” she said.

    That loss has been tragically common among Native Americans, the C.D.C. revealed last week: From 2019 to 2021, their life expectancy fell from 71.8 years to 65.2. Covid was largely to blame.

    May need to open free account to read full article.

    Full article here> 


  • 7 Sep 2022 6:14 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The first doses of COVID-19 vaccine boosters that provide extra protection against the omicron variants have arrived in Illinois. [Health News Illinois]

    There are about 150,000 doses in Chicago, which are available at pharmacies and other healthcare sites, Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a press conference Tuesday.

    “We need Chicago to get this updated vaccine,” she said. “It's new, it's different and it will give better protection than what we've had previously.”

    The city will make the boosters available through its in-home vaccination program.

    Arwady said they plan to host family vaccination clinics at City Colleges of Chicago through November and provide flu and COVID-19 vaccination clinics in all 50 Chicago wards this fall. 

    About 36 percent of reinfections in the city are from residents initially infected with omicron, she added.

    “So if you think you're counting on, ‘I've had COVID, I've had a prior vaccine, I don't really need this updated vaccine,’ please don't count on that,” Arwady said.

    IDPH said it expects to receive 580,000 doses of the booster within the week, which will head to pharmacies, hospitals and other providers. The state agency urged residents to go online and search for booster availability and to receive it when possible.

    As of Monday, 1,234 Illinoisans were in the hospital with COVID-19, up 72 from Sunday and down 106 from the prior week.

    Of the patients in the hospital, 125 were in intensive care units, down 13 from Sunday and down 50 from the prior week. Twenty-two percent of Illinois’ ICU beds were available, up 1 percentage point from the prior week.

    There were 38 patients on ventilators, down five from Sunday and down 18 from the prior week.

    Thirty counties are now at a “high” community level of COVID-19, the level at which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people mask indoors in public spaces. Sixty counties are at a “medium” risk level.

    IDPH reported 1,990 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths on Tuesday. The new cases bring the state total to 3,706,263, while the death toll is at 34,759.

    The seven-day average for new cases on Tuesday was 3,341, down 245 from the prior week. The seven-day average for daily deaths is eight, down three from the prior week.

    The seven-day case rate per 100,000 people is 26.2, down 1.9 from the prior week.

    Illinois vaccinators have administered 23,253,568 COVID-19 vaccine doses, including 4,755,491 booster shots. The seven-day average for doses administered is 3,293.


  • 6 Sep 2022 6:54 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Illinois health officials are urging residents to receive the new COVID-19 boosters. [Health News Illinois ]

    "These new bivalent vaccines are designed to offer extra protection against the omicron variants, which are now the dominant strain of the virus,” Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said in a Friday statement.

    IDPH expects an initial shipment of 580,000 doses within the week, while the city of Chicago expects to receive 150,000 initial doses.

    Meanwhile, Illinois is seeing a small uptick in COVID-19 cases.

    There were 26,127 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 reported last week, a 7.5 percent increase from the prior week. There were 70 deaths reported last week.

    The new cases bring the state’s total to 3,696,385. There have been 34,747 deaths.

    The seven-day average for new cases on Friday was 3,732, up 261 from the prior week. The seven-day average for daily deaths is 10, down two from the prior week.

    The seven-day rolling average case rate per 100,000 people is 29.3, up 2.1 from the prior week.

    As of Thursday, 1,263 Illinoisans were in the hospital with COVID-19, down 25 from Wednesday and down 47 from the prior week.

    Of the patients in the hospital, 154 were in intensive care units, down 14 from Wednesday and down four from the prior week. Twenty-two percent of Illinois’ ICU beds were available, up 1 percentage point from the prior week.

    There were 46 patients on ventilators, down eight from Wednesday and down 13 from the prior week.

    Thirty counties are now at a “high” community level of COVID-19, the level at which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people mask indoors in public spaces. Sixty counties are at a “medium” risk level.

    Cook County continues to be at a “medium” level of community, with a week-to-week decline in both cases and hospitalizations, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health. It too requested residents receive booster vaccines once they arrive in the city this week.

    According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, nearly all COVID-19 cases in the Midwest between Aug. 28 and Sept. 3 were BA.4, BA.4.6 and BA.5 omicron variants. The region includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

    Illinois vaccinators have administered 23,248,758 COVID-19 vaccines, including 4,754,536 booster doses. The seven-day average for doses administered is 5,397.

    About 60.7 percent of total doses administered went to white Illinoisans, while 15.1 went to Latinx residents, 11.3 percent to Black residents and 7.2 to Asian residents. About 2.9 percent went to those identified as “other races” while 2.2 percent are “unknown.”


  • 2 Sep 2022 12:43 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Background: The COVID‑19 pandemic and associated public health measures have disrupted the lives of people around the world. It is already evident that the direct and indirect psychological and social effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic are insidious and affect the mental health of young children and adolescents now and will in the future. The aim and objectives of this knowledge-synthesis study were to identify the impact of the pandemic on children’s and adolescent’s mental health and to evaluate the effectiveness of different interventions employed during previous and the current pandemic to promote children’s and adolescents’ mental health. [International Journal on Environmental Research and Public Health  March 2021] 

    Methodology: We conducted the systematic review according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines and included experimental randomized and nonrandomized controlled trials, observational studies, and qualitative studies. Results: Of the 5828 articles that we retrieved, 18 articles met the inclusion criteria. We thematically analyzed them and put the major findings under the thematic areas of impact of the pandemic on children’s and adolescents’ mental health. These studies reported that pandemics cause stress, worry, helplessness, and social and risky behavioral problems among children and adolescents (e.g., substance abuse, suicide, relationship problems, academic issues, and absenteeism from work). Interventions such as art-based programs, support services, and clinician-led mental health and psychosocial services effectively decrease mental health issues among children and adolescents. Conclusion: Children and adolescents are more likely to experience high rates of depression and anxiety during and after a pandemic. It is critical that future researchers explore effective mental health strategies that are tailored to the needs of children and adolescents. Explorations of effective channels regarding the development and delivery of evidenced-based, age-appropriate services are vital to lessen the effects and improve long-term capacities for mental health services for children and adolescents. Key Practitioner Message: The COVID-19 pandemic’s physical restrictions and social distancing measures have affected each and every domain of life. Although the number of children and adolescents affected by the disease is small, the disease and the containment measures such as social distancing, school closure, and isolation have negatively impacted the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents. The impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of children and adolescents is of great concern. Anxiety, depression, disturbances in sleep and appetite, as well as impairment in social interactions are the most common presentations. It has been indicated that compared to adults, this pandemic may continue to have increased long term adverse consequences on children’s and adolescents’ mental health. As the pandemic continues, it is important to monitor the impact on children’s and adolescents’ mental health status and how to help them to improve their mental health outcomes in the time of the current or future pandemics. View Full-Text

    Download PDF here> 


  • 1 Sep 2022 12:37 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Illinois will launch a new effort to recruit and retain staff at state agencies that provide essential health and safety services, Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday. [Health News Illinois]

    Under the plan, the Department of Central Management Services will develop and implement a statewide recruiting campaign focused on direct care staff at the state’s mental health centers, veterans' homes, correctional facilities and homes for those with developmental disabilities.

    The department will implement retention measures targeting employees at facilities that are open 24/7 and work with sister agencies to leverage existing community and workforce partners to fill such positions.

    The proposal comes as staffing shortages continue to affect healthcare and other industries, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pritzker said.

    “No matter the challenges of today's job market, our administration is mobilizing every available resource to make sure every resident has access to the critical services they need and deserve,” he said in a statement.

    AFSCME Council 31, which represents public service workers, said nearly 7,000 positions in state government were vacant at the start of 2022. Roberta Lynch, the union's executive director, welcomed Pritzker's plan.

    “The Pritzker administration is moving forward to reduce the bureaucratic delays in the state hiring process that have been so frustrating to so many, and to redouble its efforts to recruit needed new hires," she said. "In the days ahead, our union will do everything possible to advance these efforts."


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