Newsroom > News > Press Releases > Physicians, social scientists team up to reduce health disparities in Chicago
October 8, 2015 /
Posted in: College of Science and Health /
A public event to officially launch the center will be held Oct. 29 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Searle Conference Center, 1725 W. Harrison St., in the Room 500 lounge. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by Oct. 22.
The event will include opening remarks from the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., president of DePaul University; Dr. Thomas Deutsch, provost of Rush University; and Dr. David Ansell, senior vice president of system integration and a professor of internal medicine at Rush University Medical Center.
There will also be a discussion on health equity in Chicago, including panelists Jaime Dircksen, managing deputy director of the Chicago Department of Public Health; Wrenetha Julion, professor of nursing at Rush University; and Magdalena Nava, acting director of the Humboldt Park Community Diabetes Empowerment Center. Nava is also a student in DePaul’s Master of Public Health program.
Center brings together public health efforts throughout Chicago
DePaul and Rush will work to identify disparities, train health care workers and develop ways to collaborate in rapidly evolving health fields. DePaul social science faculty members will work with Rush health professionals to develop projects with the community’s needs at the forefront, evaluate student experiences in community-based clinics and programs, and analyze epidemiological data from Chicago and other cities.
“Both Rush and DePaul are dedicated to social justice and engaging communities in meaningful ways. This center takes these principles and integrates them into scholarship, education and community engagement,” said Fernando De Maio, center co-director and associate professor of sociology at DePaul.
“We hope that the center will be a convener and focal point that will help the entire health ecosystem in Chicago improve the quality of life of our residents,” said Dr. Raj Shah, center co-director and associate professor of family medicine with the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Rush University Medical Center.
‘Your zip code should not determine your life expectancy’
While there are many organizations in Chicago that address health disparities, DePaul and Rush are asking: What is it about location that matters to our health?
“Your zip code should not determine your life expectancy,” said De Maio. “No one should be disadvantaged from achieving their full health potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances.”
But the fact is that where one lives has an effect on health, he stressed.
Through the new center, students in DePaul’s Master of Public Health program will have new opportunities for community-engaged health equity research and service. The following are the center’s initial projects:
Community health pioneer helps design center
“Rush is a health sciences university with graduate students in four colleges representing all health care fields,” said Ansell. “Combining our faculty and academic health resources with those of DePaul’s sociological and related academic resources will strengthen the program and assure we have an impact on reducing the gaping health disparities in our midst. But most important to the success of this center will be the relationship with our community partners that will help shape and provide direction for our work.”
Ansell, a key advocate for the center, witnessed the deep need for a different approach to solving health inequities in Chicago since his residency at Cook County Hospital in the1980s. Much of his work, advocacy and research have been dedicated to the proposition that health care is a human right. He is the board president of the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force, which is working to reduce breast cancer mortality among African-American women in Chicago.
Social justice at heart of collaboration
“This is a remarkable opportunity for DePaul and Rush faculty and students to examine the social determinants of health. It’s also an opportunity to nurture truly collaborative work among health and community experts who share DePaul’s mission to address social injustices and improve community health practices for marginalized groups,” said Holtschneider, DePaul’s president.
To learn more about the center, visit: http://www.healthequitychicago.org/. More information about DePaul’s Master of Public Health program in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences is available at http://bit.ly/DePaulMPH. DePaul University and Rush University Medical Center have a history of working together on initiatives ranging from research projects to a joint degree program. In 2014, they formalized a five-year collaboration to plan and coordinate new programs to benefit students in the field of health.
Fernando De Maio
Kristin Claes Mathews