Jacksonville’s most vulnerable or at-risk residents could have increased access to healthcare through a new program from a local hospital and a local college.
Passavant Area Hospital is announcing a partnership with SIU School of Medicine and MacMurray College that aims to initiate engagement with clients on the city’s northeast side in the coming months. “Healthy Jacksonville” is an initiative modeled after a highly-successful and award-winning community health worker program in the Enos Park neighborhood in Springfield.
This new program comes as a response to preliminary results of the 2018 Morgan County Community Health Needs Assessment, which identified access to care as a significant area of concern, along with mental health, smoking/substance abuse and sexually-transmitted diseases. While the Healthy Jacksonville program looks to increase access to care, it also places a strong emphasis on factors unrelated to healthcare, such as the various social issues that often influence an individual’s health.
Data from 2017 revealed that Morgan County ranked 77th out of Illinois’ 102 counties in terms of overall health as influenced by environment and other factors. That ranking places Morgan County approximately half-way between the most healthy and least healthy counties across Illinois based on factors such as violent crime, unemployment rates and number of single-parent households.
To identify Jacksonville’s most in-need neighborhood, a steering committee led by Christina Rollins, affiliate vice president of Operations, Quality and Safety, looked at visits to Passavant’s Emergency Department, focusing specifically on lower acuity visits and patients who returned to the Emergency Department within three days for follow-up care. Rollins’ committee found neighborhoods in northeast Jacksonville to be the most in-need, and organizers will focus their initial efforts in that area.
To get things started, the Passavant Foundation has provided a grant of $169-thousand dollars to fund the first year of Healthy Jacksonville. Part of that grant will go towards the integration of two community health workers who will have offices located in the target area and be who will work towards building relationships with local residents with the goal of helping them achieve better health.
Supervisor of Social Services and Case Coordination at Passavant Hospital Sarah Karraker has been chosen to supervise the community health workers and assist with ensuring a successful program. To help gather data as the project gets underway, Passavant will use the help of students from MacMurray College’s Social Work department.