Rush University Medical Center
Country: United States
Rush University Medical Center’s Community COVID Response: Pro-actively Addressing Health Equity Needs in Chicago Communities
People living in the neighborhoods at the center of Rush’s service area are working to overcome decades of structural racism and economic deprivation, including higher levels of poverty and unemployment, crowded housing, and lower rates of education and health insurance. Rush has long recognized that fulfilling its healing mission requires active involvement in addressing these structural barriers. When COVID-19 reached the local communities Rush leadership immediately recognized the disproportionate threat these disadvantaged communities were likely to face, and the need to respond.
Shortly after Illinois’ shelter-in-place order began, Rush’s various departments came together to launch a Community Command Center (CCC) to identify and address emerging community needs related to COVID-19. Surveying community partners about their needs was an important first step for building their institutional strategy. From there, a comprehensive intervention strategy, including a portfolio of specific programs and associated success metrics, was developed and implemented in collaboration with these community partners. One particularly noteworthy initiative was the establishment of COVID-19 Isolation Center for the homeless, which was made in collaboration with the City of Chicago, homeless housing providers and other healthcare institutions.
Rush’s success in implementing community-facing interventions was assisted greatly by two facets of its design and its historical engagement. Through Rush’s long-standing commitment to community engagement, it also already had platforms of community collaboration in place that could be quickly activated to address community needs.