With Health of the Public Funding, University of Illinois at Chicago Emphasizes Community-Oriented Health Care

From 1993 to 1997, the University of Illinois at Chicago introduced a new course on community-oriented health care, completed profiles of two low-income communities, developed a model for teaching students in a community health center, and opened a Health Policy Center.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national program Health of the Public: An Academic Challenge.

As part of a major campus strategic planning process conducted in 1992, the University of Illinois at Chicago had identified a large section of west central Chicago as the focus of its health-related community outreach efforts.

The area was medically underserved, had a median family income far below the city average, and its residents suffered from poor health status, as measured by such indicators as infant mortality, lead poisoning, immunization rates, and violent crime. The University of Illinois at Chicago Health Sciences Center operated three health centers in west central Chicago and was adding a dental clinic to an existing community health center.

Key Results

  • The Health of the Public project team completed profiles of two communities in which health science center operates health centers, the Near West Side and Lower West (Pilsen), which were published in 1997 in Chicago's Near West Side: A Community Profile.

    It included information on housing, health and social services, education, employment, and transportation. The Lower West profile covered a predominantly Mexican community served by the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center.
  • Researchers developed and taught a new course on community-oriented health care. The semester-long course covered:

    The U.S. health care system, including the roles of each health profession.
    • Community assessment.
    • Applied epidemiology.
    • Prevention in at-risk populations.
    • Cultural diversity. Health promotion.
    • Community interventions.
    • Applying the principles of community-oriented health care to clinical practice.

    Over three years, 136 students completed the course.
  • The University of Illinois at Chicago and the Circle Family Care Health Center developed a model for teaching students in a community health center (a teaching community health center model).

    Development included offering an orientation to the community in which the center is located, exposing students to interdisciplinary practice, assessing student experiences, involving students in the community's health planning and advocacy efforts, and providing technical assistance on implementing Medicaid managed care.
  • In September 1995, the University of Illinois at Chicago launched its Health Policy Center. Research reports from the center have included a study of metropolitan health policy development and implementation, a statewide survey of primary care graduate medical education programs in Illinois, and an analysis from the statewide database on medical education outcomes of the eight medical schools in Illinois.

Project staff made presentations on the community-oriented health care course at national conferences.