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Sharon Homan named President of Sinai Urban Health Institute

July 30, 2016

We are excited to introduce Sharon Homan, PhD, the new President of Sinai Urban Health Institute. Previously, Dr. Homan served as Professor and Chair of the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology and Associate Dean for Research at the University of North Texas School of Public Health in Fort Worth, Texas.

Dr. Homan’s prior experience also includes public health leadership and faculty positions with Saint Louis University (Professor of Biostatistics), Rockhurst University (Academic Vice President), and the Kansas Health Institute (Vice President for Public Health). Dr. Homan received her doctoral and master’s degrees from the University of Iowa, studying biostatistics, preventive medicine, and environmental health. She completed additional studies in psychiatric epidemiology, theology, and social ethics.

Dr. Homan brings a wealth of experience and publications in public health research and evaluation, with particular dedication to maternal and child health, violence prevention, and community health improvement initiatives. Her research has been funded by NIH, HRSA, CDC, DOJ, state contracts, and foundations. Dr. Homan is both honored and thrilled to join the SUHI team. She looks forward to building on our successes, and growing our research partnerships and collaborations to improve lives and reduce health disparities.


SUHI-Chicago Medical School Summer Internship Program

July 30, 2016

SUHI is hosting a summer internship program for students from the Chicago Medical School. Now in its fourth year, nine medical students will spend the summer at SUHI learning about public health, epidemiology, and research. The program includes a wide variety of workshops, lectures, and field trips to broaden the students’ exposure to diverse health issues and to improve their research skills. The students will be participating in classes on mortality, the role of community health workers, social determinants of health, and reading medical literature. The students will also take field trips to the Lawndale Christian Health Center and Humboldt Park, as well as go on bus tours of North and South Lawndale. In addition to these activities, each intern has an individual mentor and is working on a research project to support the Sinai Survey data dissemination.

This partnership has resulted in many publications in prestigious journals over the past few years. Articles co-authored by CMS student interns have been published in Stroke, Diabetes Care, Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, and the Journal of Urban Health. Samuel Choi, a 2015 SUHI intern mentored by Bijou Hunt, won second place at the 2015 Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science Summer Research Poster Session. Previous summer interns’ work is prominently highlighted on page 15 of the Spring 2016 Chicago Medical School newsletter, which can be found here.

The 2016 summer interns pictured left to right: (back row) Ashima Sarup, Donna Tsai, Alison Wiles, Jon Casas, Brian White, Nik Raju (front row) Rachel Bruckman Hosford, Laura Jansen, Nadia Hallaj. The SUHI mentors are Maureen Benjamins, Veronica Fitzpatrick, Jana Hirschtick, Sharon Homan, Michelle Hughes, Bijou Hunt, and Helen Margellos-Anast. The program is directed by Michelle Hughes and Maureen Benjamins.


SUHI Researcher Inducted into Delta Omega

July 30, 2016

Congratulations to Veronica Fitzpatrick, DrPH, who was inducted into the prestigious Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health. Founded in 1924 at Johns Hopkins University when the profession of public health was in its infancy, Delta Omega has 84 chapters throughout the world. Delta Omega members are selected from top echelons of graduate schools and programs of public health, as well as the public health community. 


HUD Panel on Healthy Home Interventions

July 30, 2016

On April 4, 2016, Helen Margellos-Anast, MPH, Senior Epidemiologist and Director of SUHI’s Asthma Initiatives, was a featured panelist on a nationally broadcasted webcast hosted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The theme of the webcast was “Helping Residents Breathe Easier by Addressing Asthma Triggers in Housing.” Other panelists included Dr. Elizabeth Matsui, Professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology and Environmental Health Sciences, at John Hopkins University, and Dr. Megan Sandel, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and Public Health. Over 700 tuned into the live webcast. The webcast has also been archived here.


SUHI Hosts two On The Table Events

July 30, 2016

The SUHI community health worker (CHW) team hosted two Chicago Community Trust On the Table events on May 10, 2016. On the Table asks neighbors from across the area to gather for meal-time conversations. This year’s theme was uniting colleagues, friends, and neighbors to lead change across Chicagoland and create a more unified region.

The first On the Table discussion was held at Wishbone restaurant and focused on leveraging strengths and resources within the CHW field, under the leadership of the Chicago CHW Local Network. Stakeholders deliberated on how to continue to foster future opportunities for collaboration, overcome any such barriers, build awareness and support for CHW work, and inspire more people to be involved with the Chicago CHW Local Network. Stakeholders had strong interest in capacity-building, including the creation of a strong communications plan and aggressively pursuing additional funding.

The second On the Table breakfast was held at Los Candiles restaurant in South Lawndale. Community health workers (CHWs) from South and North Lawndale participated in the lively discussion focusing on increasing collaboration between the two neighboring yet distinct communities. Given the unique role that CHWs play in their respective communities, the group decided an excellent way to start was to hold additional gatherings of CHWs. A CHW from each community volunteered to spearhead a get together of CHWs in August. 


SUHI Staff Attend National Oral Health Conference

July 30, 2016

SUHI is currently leading a comprehensive statewide oral health assessment, generously supported by the Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation, Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation, and the Michael Reese Health Trust. The assessment will document progress toward achieving oral health in Illinois and will provide an in depth analysis of oral health status and access to services across the state. SUHI staff attended the National Oral Health Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio this April to attend sessions, network with oral health experts from other states, and investigate potential data sources for the assessment. This conference is the premiere annual convening of dental public health experts from across the county. Dr. Caswell Evans, a nationally known oral health expert and a member of SUHI’s oral health assessment advisory board, spoke as a panelist at the conference.


State-Level Workforce Recommendations Released for CHWs in Illinois

July 30, 2016

SUHI is excited to announce that the Illinois Community Health Worker (CHW) Advisory Board has released a recent report on standards and policies for CHWs in Illinois. The diverse 15-member Board, along with a broad array of over 70 stakeholders, developed 25 recommendations organized under 5 major categories: (1) core competencies and roles; (2) training and certification; (3) financing and reimbursement; (4) workforce development; and (5) raising awareness.

Melissa Gutierrez Kapheim, MPH, Epidemiologist at SUHI, who served as co-chair of the Board, recounts, “Over the past 10 years, I’ve had the privilege of working alongside CHWs, seeing firsthand their impact on the lives of fellow community members. I’ve watched CHWs grow professionally, continue their own education, take steps to improve their own health, and be an example to future generations. Through SUHI’s vigorous research, our CHW-led interventions have demonstrated improvements in health and in cost savings to Illinois Medicaid. During this time, where both nationally and in Illinois, we’re struggling to curb costs and improve population health, it’s an ideal opportunity for our State to be a leader in supporting the work of the CHW profession. We at SUHI look forward to continuing this important work.”


SUHI's Helping Her Live Program Receives Funding from Komen and Avon

July 30, 2016

The Helping Her Live Program (HHL) is a breast cancer education and outreach program that assists women from the west and southwest sides of Chicago. The goal of HHL is to empower women with information to help them obtain routine breast cancer screenings and results through the navigation of breast health services. This year, we are pleased to announce Komen and Avon’s continued support to fund the HHL program.

In April 2016, SUHI’s Helping Her Live (HHL) program was awarded its second consecutive year of funding from Komen Chicago, in the amount of $75,000. This will fund two full-time Community Health Workers (CHW) for one year, to provide breast health education and navigation services for women living on Chicago’s Westside. CHWs educate women in need about breast health awareness, help women schedule and attend their annual mammograms and navigate women to the proper level of care in the event of an abnormal mammogram. 

Pictured from left to right: HHL team members Veronica Robles, Jessica Ramsay, Donna Hampton-Smith, Alnierys Venegas, Stephanie Jordan, Kristi Allgood, and Gabriela Bustos

Similarly, on June 5, 2016, SUHI and HHL participated in the Cheering Station at the Rainforest Cafe for the Avon 39 Walk. We were excited to cheer on so many amazing women with our clappers! After the cheering station, the HHL team went to the closing Ceremony at Soldier Field where we were awarded with a check for $200,000 to continue funding the HHL program for our outreach and clinical navigation services.

SUHI and HHL are grateful for the continued partnership with Komen Chicago and the Avon Foundation. We are excited to continue servicing women in need of breast health services in Chicago! 


SUHI Signs Two-Year Contract with Family Health Network

July 30, 2016

SUHI is thrilled to have recently signed another two-year contract with Family Health Network (FHN), a Medicaid managed care organization and founding partner of SUHI’s Asthma CarePartners (ACP) program. This summer marks the five-year anniversary of the ACP program, a CHW-led, home-based asthma intervention for public and private insurers. The program continues to yield powerful outcomes, including a dramatic reduction in healthcare utilization and asthma symptoms, as well as decreased number of missed work and school days due to asthma. SUHI and FHN are excited to continue their collaboration that enables children and adults with asthma to live the full and active lives they deserve.


SUHI Continues Collaboration with University of Chicago Medical Center

July 30, 2016

SUHI’s CHW consulting work continues to expand with the addition of a year-long collaboration with the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) that began in November, 2015. SUHI guided UCMC in its CHW selection process and has thus far trained their new staff using SUHI’s 40-hour CHW core skills curriculum, as well as extensive asthma-specific training which includes a week of didactic and interactive information on asthma, medications, devices, disease management, and Healthy Homes. In addition, CHWs progress through a series of role-play evaluations with mock patients to prepare them for delivering asthma education in a person’s home or in a clinical setting. Additional guidance in recruiting, hiring, and training CHWs will take place. SUHI is excited to assist UCMC as it integrates CHWs into their system. 


The Chicago Community Trust Evaluation and Survey Grants

July 30, 2016

In October 2015, SUHI received a $150,000 grant from The Chicago Community Trust (CCT) in support of an evaluation capacity building initiative. This continues a cumulative five-year Searle Fund (FY11, FY13, FY15) and CCT-funded (FY12, FY14) collaboration, in which SUHI provides evaluation capacity building and technical assistance to community-based health programs funded by CCT under their ‘Preventing and Reducing Obesity’ priority area. SUHI will continue to partner with Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC) to work with 27grantee organizations. SUHI is eager to continue this partnership to strengthen and broaden meaningful program evaluation among community health programs in Chicago.

SUHI also received a third year of funding from The Chicago Community Trust in support of the Sinai Community Health Survey. The Sinai Survey includes over 500 questions on child and adult health and is currently being conducted in partnership with UIC’s Survey Research Laboratory in 9 Chicago community areas, including Hermosa, Humboldt Park, West Town, North Lawndale, South Lawndale, Gage Park, Chicago Lawn, West Englewood, and Norwood Park. Data from the survey will be shared widely with the community and used to inform all of SUHI’s current health disparities work and future interventions. If you are interested in hearing the results from the survey or hosting a presentation at your organization, please contact Jana Hirschtick and