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Even before COVID-19 unmasked disparities in health care, Silver Cross Hospital had programs in place to address it.
The fact that, in 2019, 37% of all patients treated in the Silver Cross emergency departments were uninsured or on public aid shows the need is there.
One program, the Silver Cross Health Community Commission, was founded by Silver Cross Hospital board of trustees and community members in 2008 when the New Lenox hospital was still located in Joliet.
“It focuses on the underserved community on the east side of Joliet,” Leslie Newbon, manager of community outreach for Silver Cross Hospital, said
The late Margie Woods , a retired Will County Board, chaired the 17-member commission until January.
In addition to offering training scholarships for certified nurse assistants, the commission, coordinates health care services throughout the community and does long-range planning for the community’s urgent and primary health care needs.
The commission also identifies gaps in workforce development programs and provides grants to existing and/or new organizations.
Newbon said that, according to PwC’s Health Research Institute, clinical care is 20% of a patient’s care and 80% is attributed to health behaviors, the physical environment and socio-economic conditions.
So the commission wanted to address multiple socio-economic factors that might contribute to health disparities.
“One of the main reasons why we were formed was to advise the hospital on critical issues going on in the community,” Newbon said.
The commission also developed scholarship programs for residents pursuing health care careers and who live in Fairmont Grade School District 89 and in the following zip codes: 60432, 60433 and 60436.
“Education is part of the overall health of a person,” Newbon said.
"You end up making your community a healthier community," Newbon said.
Since 2008, more than 50,000 individuals associated with local organizations have received scholarships.
These organization include Alpha Kappa Alpha Sororities, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Community Service Council, Girl Scouts of America, Greater YMCA of Joliet, Harvey Brooks Foundation, Hispanic/Latino Coalition of Will County, NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), National Hook-up For Black Women, Spanish Community Center, University of St. Francis, Warren Sharp Community Center, and Will-Grundy Medical Center.
But Silver Cross address health care disparity in the community in other ways, too..
For instance, from Oct. 2018 to Sept. 2019, Silver Cross provided $7 million in “charity care” for patients, meaning the hospital isn't expecting payment for those services, according to a news release from Silver Cross.
In addition, Silver Cross provided more than $8 million in unreimbursed Medicaid services to the community, the news release said.
These provisions are part of a pledge Silver Cross made in 2008 to provide at least $4 million a year for 10 years in charity care for Will County residents, the release said.