New UChicago Medicine report outlines top health priorities for South Side communities

Doctor with teenage patient holding asthma inhaler

Residents on the South Side have identified chronic diseases, the need for violence prevention and trauma resiliency, and health inequities as key health concerns that they face, according to the University of Chicago Medicine’s 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA).

These issues mirror some of the concerns found in the 2016 CHNA, which identified pediatric asthma and obesity, cancer, violence, diabetes and sexually transmitted diseases as health priorities for UChicago Medicine’s South Side service area. This service area represents 23% of Chicago’s population and includes 12 ZIP codes that span 35 community areas.

For the first time, the 2019 report includes a thorough analysis of social determinants of health, which are the root causes of health inequities, including higher prevalence of chronic diseases and violence in the community. These determinants include education level, poverty, unemployment, violence and community safety, access to care, and food insecurity, which results from the lack of nutritious, reliable, and affordable food sources. According to the 2019 CHNA, 53% of the service-area population lives in poverty, almost double the state poverty level, and nearly half of the community residents are at risk for food insecurity.

The CHNA is used to identify community health priorities and make decisions on where to commit resources that can most effectively improve community members’ health and wellness. Priority health areas were determined through extensive data collection and analysis, including from community resident surveys and focus groups as well as from state, county and city public health and crime data.

For South Side communities, the priorities for 2019-21 are:

  • Preventing and managing chronic diseases (asthma and diabetes)
  • Building trauma resiliency with a focus on violence recovery and mental health
  • Reducing health inequities by addressing social determinants of health (access to care, food, and employment)

“The Community Health Needs Assessment provides powerful data and valuable insight to help UChicago Medicine ensure its programs and resources are promoting health equity by supporting the most relevant and pressing health concerns in the communities that we serve,” said Brenda Battle, RN, BSN, MBA, vice president of the Urban Health Initiative, which oversees community benefit initiatives. “Through this analysis, and with extensive community collaboration and outreach, we have developed a strategic implementation plan that seeks to not only address the most critical health concerns, but also the underlying social determinants that exacerbate them.”

Tools for residents and health-focused community organizations


UChicago Medicine currently works with community partners to offer programs and resources to mitigate the health concerns associated with asthma, diabetes and trauma resiliency, which were identified as priorities in prior CHNAs. These include, for asthma, the South Side Pediatric Asthma Center; for diabetes, South Side Fit and the Diabetes Empowerment Education Program; and for trauma resiliency, the Violence Recovery Program and Rapid Cycle Violence Prevention and Recovery grant program.

To address health concerns associated with social determinants of health, UChicago Medicine collaborates with the South Side Health Collaborative — which includes 30 community health centers and community hospitals comprised within the South Side — and offers the Medical Home and Specialty Care Connection to improve access to care; for food insecurity, Feed1st; and for unemployment, Cara Connects and other workforce programs.

“The Community Health Needs Assessment establishes which community health concerns require UChicago Medicine’s attention and resources, and we respond accordingly with strategic programs and collaborative partnerships, including those related to asthma, diabetes, violence prevention and more,” said CHNA contributor Doriane Miller, MD, associate professor of medicine and director of the Center for Community Health and Vitality at UChicago Medicine. “Based on the latest findings and analyses of social determinants of health, our work will focus on increasing access to food for patients with food insecurities, expanding access to health care and providing more employment opportunities for community residents.”

These objectives are described in UChicago Medicine’s Strategic Implementation Plan, which was published in tandem with the CHNA. It outlines the health system’s plans to address the identified health priorities.

The 2019 CHNA also features community profiles of 27 South Side community areas— from Oakland to Riverdale — which provide data about demographics and social determinants of health, as well as health behaviors, outcomes and resources.

“The comprehensive scope and detailed data available in the Community Health Needs Assessment makes it a valuable tool for residents and health-focused community organizations to better understand our communities’ health needs, as well as areas where advocacy, education and funding would be best dedicated,” said Sherida Morrison, who chairs the Maternal and Child Health Working Group of UChicago Medicine’s Community Advisory Council. Morrison is the founder of Demoiselle 2 Femme, NFP and the Chicago Coalition on Urban Girls.

“The report also demonstrates how UChicago Medicine is addressing the health and social needs of South Side communities through research, collaboration and participatory problem-solving,” she said.

UChicago Medicine worked extensively with its Community Advisory Council, along with faculty and staff, to determine the CHNA’s health priorities.

To conduct the research, analysis and community outreach, UChicago Medicine partnered with the Alliance for Health Equity, a collaborative of 37 hospitals working with health departments and regional and community-based organizations to improve health equity.

As part of its mission and as a federal requirement for nonprofit hospitals, UChicago Medicine and Ingalls Memorial conduct a CHNA every three years, and publish an accompanying Strategic Implementation Plan designed to addresses their communities’ top health priorities.

For the Ingalls Memorial service area, which covers a population of nearly 261,000 in the south suburbs, health priorities are: preventing and managing chronic diseases (heart disease, diabetes, and asthma), increasing access to maternal services through prenatal care, and promoting cancer awareness (breast and prostate).

Individual CHNAs and Strategic Implementation Plans

UChicago Medicine Hyde Park

UChicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial

Learn more about the Community Benefit efforts at UChicago Medicine.



New UChicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial report outlines top health priorities for south suburban communities

Our new report finds chronic disease prevention, maternal health access and cancer awareness as essential for improving health of residents in the south suburbs.

Learn more about the Ingalls Community Health Needs Assessment