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Partner Stories

Learn how some of our partner organizations are making a powerful impact within the communities they serve.

Hospital Partner SpotlightsEvanston | Glenbrook | Highland Park | Northwest Community Healthcare | Skokie | Swedish

Evanston Hospital Partner Spotlight: ETHS Health Clinic

Healthcare Integration at Local High School
Centrally located within the busy halls of Evanston Township High School, NorthShore’s ETHS Health Clinic acts as a convenient, thorough and safe place for students to receive health care.

Each year, the ETHS Health Clinic provides care to thousands of students. From routine physicals before sports seasons and immunizations to education on sexual wellness and mental health offerings, the health clinic staff works to support students in the place where they spend most of their day.

“For high school students who are busy people, getting care here is very practical,” ETHS Health Clinic Lead Registered Nurse Ida Joyce Sia said. “Our goal is to help keep students well, because it is hard to learn when you are not well.”

Sia said the health clinic has been looking forward to the return to in-person learning at ETHS and the impending higher amount of visits. The health clinic stayed open during the pandemic and still saw a number of patients.

The ETHS Health Clinic is open to all students, but it also serves as a cornerstone of primary care for some students, particularly refugee students, many of whom do not have access to other healthcare.

“In general, for so many students who’s situations had changed during the pandemic — where their families may have lost health insurance — we were, and are, available to provide that intermediate care,” Sia said.

Glenbrook Hospital Partner Spotlight: The Josselyn Center

A Lifeline for Mental Health Support
As the pandemic raged, mental health therapist Bunmi Bayode was a virtual lifeline for people seeking solace from overwhelming feelings of panic, fear and isolation.

One young girl seeking help said she felt like she was falling into an abyss. As she plummeted, the fear of dying grew stronger and darker. Other clients struggled with reality, had difficulty sleeping, suffered from constant ruminations or disappeared into video games.

“So many of my clients are spiraling down because of this pandemic,” said Bayode, MSc, LPC, who counsels adults and youth at The Josselyn Center in Waukegan. “This experience will impact our youth and adults immeasurably if they can’t access help to manage these feelings.”

One in five Americans has a mental illness or substance use disorder, yet many are reluctant to seek help or simply don’t know where to turn for care. Even friends and family of someone who may be developing a mental illness, don’t know how to intervene.

To heighten awareness, The Josselyn Center operates Mental Health First Aid, a program that teaches community members how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.

“This is a really terrifying time for adults and kids,” Bayode said. “But we have a lot to offer here at The Josselyn Center and everyone here works hand-in-hand to provide the best care possible.”

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Highland Park Hospital Partner Spotlight: Erie HealthReach Waukegan

Breaking Down Barriers Through Telehealth
The launch of telehealth services at the start of the pandemic increased access to critical healthcare for Erie’s patients, many of whom face complex barriers to care such as lack of transportation, lack of childcare and inflexible hours of employment.

Erie’s Medical Director of Reproductive Health, Dr. Tracy Irwin, was conducting one such telehealth appointment with a pregnant patient. Dr. Irwin recognized that the patient sounded breathless during the call. She became concerned, and persuaded her patient to seek testing. The patient’s test came back positive for COVID-19. Dr. Irwin knew she was in urgent need of hospitalization. The patient was immediately admitted to NorthShore Evanston Hospital, where she and her baby received specialty COVID care to protect mom and baby.

Erie Family Health Centers care for more than 82,000 patients of all ages across 13 health center locations, regardless of a patient’s insurance status, immigration status, or ability to pay for services. Throughout the pandemic, Erie has provided high-quality primary care to communities most impacted by COVID-19 and its devastating social and economic effects. Learn more about Erie HealthReach Waukegan.

Northwest Community Healthcare Partner Spotlight: Community Resource Center

A Second Home for Families in Need
The Suarez family is just one of the many families that call the Community Resource Center (CRC) their second home.

Maria and her husband, Saul, first came to the CRC eight years ago so their children could participate in the early childhood programs, which included learning English. Eventually, Maria began taking classes and earned her Citizenship Certificate. She also received free tutoring from volunteers while her children were in childcare.

The CRC, operated by Northwest Community Hospital and a not-for-profit Partners for Our Communities (POC), houses agencies dedicated to meeting the needs of the under-resourced population, including a large percentage of immigrant families, in the Northwest suburbs.

“Maria is an eager learner,” said Kathy Millin, Executive Director of POC. “She participates in many health and wellness programs offered by the Northwest Community Hospital health nurse.”

Maria's youngest child, Jenny, was born with special needs. The POC staff worked closely with the partners at the Center to ensure that she was enrolled in every program offered by the Palatine Public Library, The Early Childhood Developmental Enrichment Center, and the Palatine Park District. Jenny loves taking ballet classes at the center and this year she attended her very first ICompete Summer camp along with her brother and sister!

Skokie Hospital Partner Spotlight: Turning Point Behavioral Health – The Living Room Project

A Comfortable Place to Seek Support
Anxiety is the most prevalent presenting issue of the guests who visit the Living Room & Resource Center at Turning Point in Skokie.

“Often they just need a place to speak to someone and have that warm contact,” said Ronit Peikes, MSW, LCSW, Human Resources Director. “Someone in crisis might otherwise have to go to an emergency room. We offer another option where people will have a warm, positive experience.”

Just like it sounds, the Living Room is a comfortable, home-like setting where adults suffering from a mental health crisis can walk in and get help from therapists and Recovery Support Specialists, with no out of pocket costs.

The Living Room offers a number of services including support, assistance with problem solving, referrals for shelter, healthcare, and nearby pantries, all within a safe space in which to rest and relax.

Swedish Hospital Partner Spotlight: Apna Ghar

Finding Strength and Support to Rebuild
The most dangerous time for a woman who is abused is when she attempts to leave her abuser.

A doctor at Swedish Hospital recently referred a patient to the on-site advocate from Apna Ghar, a Chicago human rights organization that supports people experiencing gender-based violence.  The patient’s husband who was emotionally, physically and sexually abusive. The abuse included withholding her medications.

“He had control of everything. All of the abusive things you could think a person could do, he was doing to her,” said Keerthana Srinivasan, a mental health therapist with the organization. “We did a lot of problem solving and eventually she found an apartment, filed for divorce and is feeling much more empowered.”

Apna Ghar focuses on immigrant and refugee communities, to provide critical, comprehensive, culturally competent services, and conducts outreach and advocacy across communities to end gender violence. Apna Ghar remains on the front line available to help. Apna Ghar provides on-site counseling as part of Swedish Hospital’s robust Pathways interpersonal violence prevention program.

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