UChicago Medicine’s Community Health Needs Assessment Finds Cancer, Heart Disease as Updated Priorities for South Side

UChicago Medicine’s Community Health Needs Assessment finds Cancer, Heart Disease as Updated Priorities for South Side
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UChicago Medicine’s Community Health Needs Assessment Finds Cancer, Heart Disease as Updated Priorities for South Side (Chicago, IL)Residents of the South Side added cancer and heart disease to violence prevention on their list of top health priorities, according to results of the University of Chicago Medicine’s 2021-22 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA).

As part of its mission and as a federal requirement for nonprofit hospitals, UChicago Medicine conducts and publishes a CHNA every three years for the University of Chicago Medical Center and UChicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial, both of which are part of the South Side-based academic health system. The CHNA provides essential guidance for UChicago Medicine’s community health investments and efforts. Previous CHNAs have helped guide investments in community benefits such as violence prevention initiatives, charity care, prevention and wellness programs, and public health research — which have totaled more than $2.5 billion over the past five years.

Community Input

Based on community input and analysis of a myriad of data, the priorities for the communities served by UChicago Medicine are as follows:

  • For the University of Chicago Medical Center’s service area, which represents more than 626,000 residents and spans 28 community areas on the South Side:
    • Prevent and manage chronic diseases, specifically cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Cancer and heart disease are new priorities of the community.
    • Build trauma resiliency with a focus on violence and trauma recovery and mental health.
    • Reduce health inequities with attention to access to care, food insecurity and workforce development.
  • For Ingalls Memorial’s service area in suburban Cook County, which serves more than 256,000 residents across 13 ZIP codes in Thornton Township and includes Harvey:
    • Prevent and manage chronic diseases, specifically heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
    • Provide access to care and services with a focus on maternal services and mental health.
    • Reduce health inequities with attention to access to care, food insecurity and workforce development.

Finding on Ingall’s Service Area

One finding from the report that spans both the University of Chicago Medical Center’s and Ingalls’ service areas: Residents in these communities face significant health disparities, with strikingly high rates of cancer, asthma, diabetes, obesity and other chronic diseases. Other critical findings from the survey include:

  • South Side residents identified violent crime as the top health concern.
  • Residents in parts of the South Side are more likely to receive a severe initial cancer diagnosis (stage 4 or metastatic cancer) than if they live in other areas of Chicago. This comes on top of other alarming facts — that South Side residents are twice as likely to die from cancer than those who live just about anywhere else in the country and that cancer is the second leading cause of death in the area.
  • In Harvey and south suburbs, the mortality rate from heart disease is 26% higher for non-Hispanic Black people than other racial/ethnic groups.

“The CHNA survey and findings confirm the health disparities that we have been working to address through renewed investments in cancer care, violence prevention and primary care access, to name a few,” said Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, Dean and EVP for Medical Affairs at the University of Chicago. “This includes our plans for Chicago’s first freestanding cancer center, which will be built on our campus on the South Side and significantly expand our capacity and resources for cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment and research.”

Addressing cancer needs

In February 2022, to help address health inequities across its service areas, UChicago Medicine announced a $633 million project to build a 500,000-square-foot facility dedicated to cancer care and research on its medical campus on the city’s South Side. It represents one of the largest investments made by UChicago Medicine for patients and the community and will be the state’s and city’s only freestanding comprehensive cancer center.

UChicago Medicine will begin to solicit input this week from community members to share their thoughts and ideas on key elements of the proposed cancer center. These inputs will inform UChicago Medicine’s detailed planning for the cancer center and the request this fall to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board seeking approval to construct the building.

“Work is underway to incorporate the voice of patients and members of the community into the design of the facility, as we look to build a best-in-class, human-centered experience for our cancer center of the future,” said Tom Jackiewicz, President of the University of Chicago Medical Center, which serves as the hub for the UChicago Medicine health system. “We are launching a community engagement effort this summer that includes a survey as well as meetings with faith leaders and residents of the South Side.”

UChicago Medicine has developed English- and Spanish-language versions of the Cancer Center Project Community Survey and will be working with its Community Advisory Council to host several meetings with members of the community.

Addressing other inequities

The CHNA results also confirm UChicago Medicine’s ongoing work in violence prevention and trauma resiliency. This involves developing partnerships, creating trauma-informed medical education, and engaging in community-based programs that prevent and treat trauma. Key initiatives include the Violence Recovery Program, Healing Hurt People–Chicago and Southland RISE (UChicago Medicine’s trauma recovery program with Advocate Health Care). This month, through Southland RISE, UChicago Medicine will be announcing $150,000 in funding to select grassroots organizations for their programs designed to keep young people safe during the summer.

In addition, the new report reinforces the work of the South Side Healthy Community Organization (SSHCO), which comprises UChicago Medicine and 12 other health providers and is scoped to serve more than 400,000 residents on the South Side. The SSHCO — officially launching later in July — is focused on increasing access to primary and specialty care, preventative and chronic care management, care coordination and community engagement.

Learning more about the CHNA

The CHNA incorporates health and demographic data from primary and secondary sources, as well as extensive community input collected through surveys, focus groups and key informant interviews. The accompanying Strategic Implementation Plan for each service area outlines the strategies, investments and programming that will help address the health priorities between fiscal 2023 and 2025.

The CHNA reflects 15 months of gathering and analyzing primary data, obtained through multiple community focus groups, stakeholder interviews and surveying of close to 1,500 community members about their health concerns and priorities. It also includes secondary data from multiple sources, including state, county and city public health and crime data.

In addition to surveying and engaging community members, UChicago Medicine worked extensively with its Community Advisory Council, faculty, staff and other stakeholders to determine the CHNA’s health priorities.

To learn more about the considerable health concerns and challenges that residents in UChicago Medicine’s service areas are facing and how the health system is working with community to address them:

UChicago Medicine’s Community Health Needs Assessment Finds Cancer, Heart Disease as Updated Priorities for South Side


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