Senator Durbin Visits Mile Square Health Center at Drake Elementary
On April 21, 2022, John B. Drake Elementary School hosted a celebration of the Dr. Cynthia Barnes-Boyd/Drake Health & Wellness Center, part of UI Health’s network of Mile Square Health Centers. Attending the celebration were United States Senator Dick Durbin, Illinois State Senator Mattie Hunter, and Chicago Third Ward Alderman Pat Dowell, as well as Dr. Robert A. Barish, UIC Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, and A. J. Wilhelmi, President of the Illinois Health and Hospital Association.
School administration and several students conducted a tour of the school and the health center. School-based Mile Square Health Centers, such as the one in John B. Drake Elementary School, promote health equity by addressing offer a range of services to students and their families, promoting health equity by addressing social determinants of health.
Following the tour there was a press conference at which attending dignitaries and key stakeholders, including a student, addressed the audience of stakeholders and community members. In his remarks, Senator Durbin recognized the success of the Chicago HEAL Initiative, which focused on 18 Chicago neighborhoods with long-standing social, economic, and health disparities. Through the HEAL (Hospital Engagement, Action, and Leadership) Initiative, the State of Illinois partnered with 10 Chicago hospitals, including the University of Illinois Health and Hospital System (UI Health). The shared commitment of the hospitals was to participate in economic and workforce development in the neighborhoods they serve, and to address health disparities and community well-being, with a broader goal of reducing levels of community violence.
In his remarks, UIC Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Robert A. Barish emphasized UI Health’s focus on health equity for marginalized communities and expressed his gratitude to Drake Principal Sydney J. Golliday for her continued partnership in promoting community health and well-being through the school-based health center.
Senator Durbin also made available his final report to stakeholders about the HEAL Initiative. Among the information outlined in the report are the following key accomplishments of the participating HEAL hospitals:
- 21% increase in local hiring,
- 27% increase in procurement from local businesses,
- 28% increase in local students who were provided with an internship and other pipeline programs into health careers,
- 130% increase in serving patients with post-injury trauma recovery programs, and
- 242% increase in the number of employees trained to conduct screenings for social determinants of health.