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  • 27 Feb 2023 8:22 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    No-barrier mental health care services in Austin are available through six organizations partnering with the Chicago Department of Public Health in a major push to expand mental health services to all 77 of Chicago’s neighborhoods that was announced earlier this month. [Austin Talks]

    Six organizations operating in Austin – Bobby E. Wright Comprehensive Behavioral Health CenterBUILD ChicagoCommunity Counseling Centers of ChicagoHabilitative Systems Inc.Infant Welfare Society and PCC Community Wellness Center – are part of a citywide network known as Chicago’s Trauma-Informed Centers of Care (TICC).

    These clinics and nonprofits offer Austin residents key services like therapy and trauma recovery, clinical care, behavioral health and substance use treatment. Some of these organizations offer crisis intervention services for families, support services for people dealing with substance use and mental health services for young people.

    In a recent press release, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the city is expanding mental healthcare access for Chicago residents through partnerships with community-based organizations and clinics. Activists have long called for the city to improve access to healthcare services after the closure of 12 city-run clinics during Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration.



  • 24 Feb 2023 5:06 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    About six in 10 U.S. adults said they would feel uncomfortable if their provider used artificial intelligence tools to diagnose them and recommend treatments in a care setting, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center. [Healthcare Dive]

    Some 38% of respondents said using AI in healthcare settings would lead to better health outcomes while 33% said it would make them worse, and 27% said it wouldn’t make much of a difference, the survey found.

    Ultimately, men, younger people and those with higher education levels were the most open to their providers using AI.



  • 23 Feb 2023 10:07 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    A House committee approved a plan Wednesday morning to clarify what nursing homes meet a “distressed facility” designation. [Health News Illinois] 

    The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Anna Moeller, D-Elgin, comes as the designation has been in place for several years, but has never been implemented due to outdated language.

    Exact language for the new criteria is being drafted, with the hope an amendment will address concerns raised by stakeholders, Moeller told the House’s Human Services Committee.

    Allison Nickrent, division chief of governmental affairs for the Department of Public Health, said they hope to "give each of these distressed facilities the attention that they need.”

    Unlike current facility inspections, the designation would allow the agency to create a program for owners of the facilities to help implement an improvement plan.

    Penalties could increase as well. The criteria would also include a process to allow a facility to appeal the calculation that put them on the list or to be removed from it.

    Ron Nunziato, senior director of policy and regulatory affairs at the Health Care Council of Illinois, said they oppose penalizing the state’s most distressed facilities.

    Instead, he suggested helping IDPH work with distressed facilities on their challenges or improve the time between the agency’s revisits.

    “I want to be clear, governments can't be successful in changing the paradigm of these facilities — the most challenging facilities of this day — by penalizing them,” Nunziato said.

    Additionally, he worried about possible confusion if nursing homes end up with the state designation and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ “special focus facility” program to improve a location's quality of care.

    Matt Hartman, executive director of the Illinois Health Care Association, said while they filed neutral on the language, they're “borderline supportive” of the bill. They want to see the additional framework focus more on resident care outcomes and things that drive quality in the sector.

    “We've already shared language and we think this is something that should be done,” Hartman said.


  • 22 Feb 2023 2:03 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Thirty-nine grants totaling $25 million will head out to Cook County organizations to expand anti-violence programming in vulnerable communities, local and state agencies announced Tuesday. [Health News Illinois]

    The funds, a partnership between the Department of Human Services’ Office of Firearm Violence Prevention and Cook County’s Justice Advisory Council, will support 74 groups focused on supporting residents at high risk of experiencing gun violence as either a victim or a perpetrator.

    "This funding demonstrates a commitment among Illinois leaders to cooperate and eliminate bureaucratic hurdles so that qualified violence prevention providers can quickly receive the resources that they need to adequately address firearm violence, one of our state's most significant public health challenges," Chris Patterson, DHS’ assistant secretary, said in a statement.

    The announcement builds on $75 million in grants issued last year by the council to address the issue. 

     See the full list of recipients here.


  • 21 Feb 2023 4:46 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    One in seven in-hospital delivery stays for non-Hispanic White women included a diagnosis of a mental health disorder in 2020 (14 per 100 delivery stays), the highest rate among any race/ethnicity group. In-hospital delivery stays for Asian/Pacific Islander women included the lowest diagnosis rate, at just 3.6 per every 100 stays (Source: AHRQ Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Statistical Brief #302,




  • 17 Feb 2023 7:37 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Millions of Americans mired in medical debt face difficult financial decisions every day — pay the debt or pay for rent, utilities and groceries. Some may even skip necessary health care for fear of sinking deeper into debt. [Modern Healthcare]

    To address the problem, an increasing number of municipal, county and state governments are devising plans to spend federal coronavirus pandemic relief funds to eliminate residents' medical debt and ease those debt burdens.

    Related: 18% drop since 2020 in people with reported medical debt

    ... Cook County, Illinois, which includes Chicago, and Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Toledo, Ohio, are among more than a dozen communities that have set into motion or are considering similar plans. Democratic Connecticut governor Ned Lamont last week proposed spending $20 million in ARPA funds to eliminate as much as $2 billion in state residents' medical debts.

    Unlike credit card or loan debt, medical debt is not a choice, advocates said.



  • 16 Feb 2023 6:23 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Addressing social determinants of health, boosting mental health access and bolstering the workforce are among the healthcare issues gaining lawmaker’s attention this legislative session. [Health News Illinois]

    “There is more to delivering healthcare than just injecting somebody, giving them a pill, doing surgery,” Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Lake Forest, said during a Health News Illinois panel Tuesday in Springfield. “Healthcare really starts with a person's lifestyle and their ability to have food, to have access to healthcare, to be able to be transported back and forth, as needed, for those things.” 

    Rep. Camille Lilly, D-Chicago, wants to ensure access to mental health services for all state residents in need.

    “We really need to make sure that we fund and that we create access … for mental health services,” she said.

    Rep. Norine Hammond, R-Macomb, the chief budgeteer for House Republicans, said she will be working with providers to come up with solutions for increasing staffing, especially in long-term care and for those serving the disabled community. 

    She also thinks Illinois should join an interstate compact that makes it easier for nurses to work across state lines. The proposal, which is opposed by unions and some Democrats, has failed to advance in recent sessions. 

    “Passing the nurse licensure compact is absolutely critical,” Hammond said. “Illinois has just not kept up with what we need to be doing in providing nurses to all of our facilities, whether it's hospitals, long-term care or physician offices.”

    Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, a member of a workgroup of lawmakers looking at Medicaid issues, said more could be done to support hospitals and long-term care facilities, where expenses are rising faster than revenues. 

    “Their only choices are either closing, cutting back services or long delays,” Syverson said. “So, before we look at starting new programs, how are we going to help sustain hospitals and long-term care facilities?”


  • 16 Feb 2023 12:26 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The proposed action levels — which are not legally set limits — would result in reduced exposures to lead and lessen potential health effects for babies and toddlers, the agency said. [Chicago SunTimes]...

    How much lead would be allowed in processed baby food?

    The processed foods covered by the draft proposal, entitled Action Levels for Lead in Food Intended for Babies and Young Children, includes foods in jars, pouches, tubs and boxes and intended for babies and young children less than 2 years old.

    Proposed action levels:

    • Fruits, vegetables, mixtures, yogurts, custards/puddings and single-ingredient meats: 10 parts per billion (ppb).
    • Single-ingredient root vegetable foods: 20 ppb for root vegetables (single ingredient).
    • Dry infant cereals: 20 ppb.



  • 15 Feb 2023 1:36 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)
    Healthy debate on if Hospital effort to tackle SDoH are work or if Value-Based Care is the new direction. [Healthcare Dive]
    • Rural, critical access and safety net hospitals have not expanded initiatives to address social determinants of health in vulnerable patient populations, and some are implementing fewer such strategies, according to an analysis of survey data collected during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Efforts to develop community partnerships especially have lagged.
    • Insufficient financial and community resources, workforce constraints, limited institutional partnerships and a lack of incentives were among the possible explanations for the stalled momentum offered by researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
    • For state and federal policymakers looking to alleviate health inequities by implementing programs focused on social needs, addressing resource barriers that hospitals serving vulnerable populations face should be a priority, the researchers said in a report published in JAMA Health Forum.
    • Read both articles. 



  • 14 Feb 2023 5:36 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Meeting patient needs for mental healthcare access will require industry leaders, clinicians, and healthcare policymakers to focus on giving clinicians the tools needed to meet patients in any care setting, as well as enable more ample access to mental healthcare providers, according to a new paper from the Alliance for Patient Access (AfPA). [Patient EngagementHIT]

    More patients than ever are seeking mental healthcare, with AfPA citing figures that 53 million Americans now live with some kind of mental illness. Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, this prevalence of mental illness has pushed the mental health space to face unheard-of patient demand.

    But patients don’t always look for mental health treatment in a traditional mental health setting, the report authors noted. While some still seek care from a mental health professional, many others find the most accessible pathway is through their primary care provider. Some find themselves in a mental health emergency and accessing the emergency department.

    “In some cases, these spaces and their providers don’t have access to the tools needed to provide mental health patients with the services to effectively treat their conditions,” the report authors noted. “It is imperative that policymakers, insurers and clinicians collaborate and adapt to provide accessible, affordable services by meeting mental health patients where they are.”


    Four in 10 mental health visits happen in a primary care setting, the AfPA report noted, potentially because of the longitudinal relationships patients have with their primary care provider. Primary care providers have had the opportunity to build a strong baseline of trust with patients, and that trust may make it easier for patients to disclose mental healthcare needs.



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