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  • 12 Dec 2022 11:54 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Illinois has taken notable steps in recent years to help address the rising mental health crisis, experts said during a panel last week.

    Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said at a luncheon hosted by the City Club of Chicago that they pinpointed behavioral health as an issue to address several years ago. The city is on track to serve 60,000 residents at its clinics this year, compared to roughly 3,600 in 2019.

    She noted the city launched a program in 2019 that provides free nurse visits to all Chicago families with newborns, with the goal of addressing the health needs of all individuals. That service has also acted as an access point for residents to mental health services.

    “I am incredibly proud that while all this has been going on, we're making real measurable progress,” Arwady said.

    Colleen Cicchetti, executive director for the Center of Childhood Resilience at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital, said efforts must also focus on helping youth with mental health challenges.

    She said that about 70 percent of children who ever talk to a mental health professional only do so at their school. While the education system plays an important role in addressing the issue, she said partnering with leaders in the community is also crucial.

    “Who are the adults that are going to help them to thrive, to build on their strengths to hold them up and give them what they need to be successful — but also to know when they need more help to break down stigma through relationships and to connect kids to services?” Cicchetti said.

    The hospital has partnered with local and state leaders for the expansion throughout Illinois of a program to promote mental health services in schools.

    More details can be found at Health News Illinois>


  • 9 Dec 2022 4:50 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    A randomized trial indicating that surgical masks are not inferior to N95 masks in protecting healthcare workers against COVID-19 has sparked international criticism. [Medscape Medical News]

    The study’s senior author is John Conly, MD, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and Alberta Health Services. The findings are not consistent with those of many other studies on this topic.

    Commenting about Conly's study on Twitter, Eric Topol, MD, editor-in-chief of Medscape, wrote, “It’s woefully underpowered but ruled out a doubling of hazard for use of medical masks.”

    The study, which was partially funded by the World Health Organization (WHO), was published online November 29 in Annals of Internal Medicine.

    Full article here>


  • 8 Dec 2022 5:30 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Bivalent COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are now authorized for use in children as young as 6 months old, the FDA announced on Thursday.[MedPage Today]

    — Bivalent vaccines will offer better protection in the coming months, says FDA

    Under an updated emergency use authorization (EUA), Pfizer's updated vaccine is now authorized as the third dose of the primary series for kids ages 6 months to 4 years, following two doses of the monovalent vaccine. Under the terms of the EUA, Pfizer's monovalent vaccine is no longer authorized as a third dose for this age group.


  • 7 Dec 2022 10:34 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The leader of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that flu hospitalizations remain the highest they’ve been at this time of year in a decade, as the nation continues to grapple with a spike in respiratory illnesses. [Health News Illinois]

    CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky also said there was an "unfortunate and expected” uptick in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations last week, following Thanksgiving. 

    She told reporters Monday that the rise is “especially worrisome as we move into the winter months when more people are assembling indoors with less ventilation and as we approach the holiday season where many are gathering with loved ones across multiple generations.” 

    Meanwhile, activity for respiratory syncytial virus remains high nationally, with some signs that it may be leveling off in areas like the Midwest. Hospital systems are “stretched” with high numbers of patients with respiratory illnesses, Walensky said. 

    Influenza cases continue to rise in Chicago, but RSV cases decreased in the past week, according to Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. She said she was surprised by the early start to flu season this year during a Facebook Live event Tuesday. 

    There were 28 influenza-associated intensive care unit hospitalizations in Chicago during Nov. 20 and Nov. 26, the most recent surveillance week, according to a report released last Friday. Sixty influenza-associated ICU hospitalizations have been reported since Oct. 2. Chicago's flu positivity rate was 28.5 percent.

    The positivity rate for RSV decreased from 9.1 percent to 5.8 percent in Chicago. The percent of emergency department visits for children under 5 also decreased from 5.9 percent to 4.7 percent. 

    Illinois is at a very high level of flu activity, according to the CDC. Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in Illinois, which has a dozen counties at the level where the CDC recommends public indoor masking.

    Dr. Sandra Fryhofer, board chair of the American Medical Association and a professor at Emory University School of Medicine, encouraged people to get vaccinated and stay home when sick. 

    "Flu is here — it started early," she said. "And with COVID and RSV also circulating, it's a perfect storm for a terrible holiday season."


  • 6 Dec 2022 8:46 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Angela McGhee never trusted the tap water flowing from the faucets of her more than century-old home. [SunTimes 12.4.2022]

    Now, beginning in January, the city will be required under state law to replace lead service pipes every time there is a break or leak in a water line. That will force the city to replace what’s estimated will be at least 4,000 lead lines a year, perhaps 5,000.

    “The problem is this city has the largest lead service line problem in the country, stated Erik Olson, senior strategic director of public health for the private Natural Resources Defense Council. 

    The 50-year-old Chatham resident gets her drinking water from store-bought bottles because she suspected her tap water might contain high levels of brain-damaging lead. 

    Last year, McGhee decided to look into a city of Chicago program that fully paid for replacement of lead service lines for low-income residents. A number of her friends and neighbors are suspicious of the program, McGhee said, but she went ahead. By August, her lead line was replaced with a copper pipe.

    “If we don’t have our health, we have nothing else,” she said.

    McGhee, who lives with her husband, is one of only 280 Chicago homeowners who have had a lead service line — the connecting pipe between a home and water main — replaced under city-sponsored programs the past two years. 

    Full article here>

    Related article> City asked to provide lead filters to address crisis. More>


  • 5 Dec 2022 2:44 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    65% say they are already living paycheck-to-paycheck

    A Harris Poll paints a troubling picture about America’s health care workers. The majority of those surveyed said stress about their personal financial situation has had a negative impact on their sleep (64%), mental health (59%), self-esteem (56%), physical health (53%), and relationships at home (53%). [Medical Economics] 

    More than half of health care workers (52%) are feeling less confident about their personal financial situation compared to a year ago, and 79% are at least somewhat worried that economy changes will have a negative effect on their personal financial situation in the next six months. The situation is already grim, with 65% saying their household lives paycheck-to-paycheck and 48% expect to need a short-term loan in the next six months.

    The biggest worries for the majority of health care workers are paying for groceries (58%), rent/mortgage (57%), gas for a car (56%), and utility bills (53%).

    The survey found that a majority of health care workers (71%) say their employer cares about their mental and physical health and the same proportion say their employer gives them the flexibility they need to manage their personal life during work hours.

    Despite the financial challenges, health care workers are interested in even more flexibility. The majority (58%) said they would be willing to reduce their paycheck for more flexible working hours. Nearly three-quarters (73%) say it is important to them that their employer provides tools and resources to help them manage financial stress.

    Full article here>


  • 2 Dec 2022 11:12 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Join us for an update on the DCFS Youth Placement Crisis in Illinois. Find out the hurdles involving the next steps for youth in Illinois. Changes are needed to improve the system, and support them move forward with their lives and wellbeing. Be aware of the current Illinois problem and join us to solve the solution.

    The program and event are for all leaders who are working to achieve health equity for all. New to this issue? Attend and find out how you can be involved and be part of the solution. Open to all. More details and to register here>

    Raul Garza, MBA, President of the Institute of Medicine of Chicago (Billings Fellow); and President and CEO of Aunt Martha's Health and Wellness will present issues involving this important issue. President Garza will be joined by: 

    • Dr. Matthew Davis, MD,MAPP, Chair of Dept. of  Medicine, Head of the Division of Advanced General Pediatrics and Primary Care, and Executive Vice President and Chief Community Health Transformation Officer, Patrick M. Magoon Institute for Healthy Communities, Lurie Children’s; Professor of Pediatrics and Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University-Feinberg School of Medicine, and Fellow, Institute of Medicine of Chicago.
    • Marc D. SmithLCSW, Director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and
    • Dana Weiner, PhD, a Senior Policy Fellow, Chapin Hall and the Director of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative.

    Donations are welcome for the Achieving Health Equity Fund! Be confident your donation is going to help achieve health equity initiatives. IOMC is a 107th year old organization with a solid history of making a difference.

    Donate on the event pageDecember 15, 2022 - More details here and to Register here>


  • 1 Dec 2022 11:26 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Vermont has the most accessible mental healthcare services, according to a report by Mental Health America. See the 39-page report. [Becker's Behavioral Health]

    The 2023 "State of Mental Health in America" report gathered data from health screenings from populations in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., through 2020 to assess aspects of mental healthcare in America. The report was released in October 2022. 

    The report ranked the accessibility of mental health services in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., by considering metrics including the quality and cost of insurance in the area, access to treatment and special education, and the availability of mental health providers. 

    Here are the 10 states with the most readily available mental healthcare, starting with the state with the most accessible care. 


    1. Vermont
    2. Massachusetts
    3. Illinois
    4. Montana
    5. Washington, D.C. 
    6. Pennsylvania 
    7. New Hampshire
    8. Connecticut
    9. Wisconsin
    10. Rhode Island

    Check out IOMC's virtual program on Mental Health from earlier this year here.


  • 30 Nov 2022 5:38 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Two Illinois agencies are set to receive more than$142 million over five years to strengthen their public health workforce and infrastructure, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday. [Health News Illinois]

    The Illinois Department of Public Health is projected to receive about $106.4 million. The Chicago Department of Public Health is projected to receive about $35.6 million.

    The dollars are part of $3.2 billion being allocated by the CDC to states, cities, counties and territories to strengthen their public health infrastructure and recruit, retain and train their workforce, including epidemiologists, contact tracers, laboratory scientists, community health workers and data analysts.

    About $3 billion of the funds come from the American Rescue Plan Act.

    “This grant gives these agencies critical funding and flexibility to build and reinforce the nation’s public health workforce and infrastructure, and protect the populations they serve,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. “We are meeting them where they are and trusting them to know what works best for their communities.”

    IDPH and CDPH did not return requests for comment.

    The state's two Democratic senators praised the funding in a joint statement, saying it will help Illinois' public health infrastructure coming out of the pandemic.

     "This infusion of American Rescue Plan support will further help the Illinois and Chicago Departments of Public Health address Illinoisans’ current medical needs, and help protect folks’ health in the time ahead," said Sen. Tammy Duckworth.


  • 29 Nov 2022 5:43 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Thrive Exchange is a “four-corner approach” to revitalizing the 79th Street corridor just two blocks from the lake. The project includes apartments, condos, retail spaces and a primary care health center. Chicago Family Health Center is one of six finalists for the Pritzker Traubert Foundation $10 million Chicago Prize 2022. [Sun-Times]

    The Ringer Bank Building was once a hub of South Side business operations for businessman Charles Ringer.

    But after a stint as a car dealership, the 1928 building sat vacant for years on the corner of 79th Street and Exchange Avenue in South Shore.

    Chicago Family Health Center and DL3 Realty now want to breathe life back into the three-story building as part of a revitalization effort for the area through Thrive Exchange, officials said.

    The project, which includes a health care center, apartments and retail, is one of six finalists for the Pritzker Traubert Foundation’s $10 million Chicago Prize 2022.

    The prize is part of a $30 million commitment from the foundation to increase development over the next three years on the South and West sides. The winner of the Chicago Prize will be announced in December.

    The Thrive Exchange project would bring an affordable health care center to the 20,000-square-foot Ringer building.

    Near the building, two apartment buildings with 76 units and 24 condos with affordable price tags also would be part of the $100 million project. Apartments would rent at 60% of the median area income. There also would be 16,000 square feet of space for retail use.

    About 450 jobs are expected to be created.


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