Strength in Community Outreach and Partnership

Over the course of my service term, every day I have learned something new. As a California native I am learning the intricacies and culture of Chicago, which has been vastly different than anywhere I have lived or visited before. I currently live and serve on the south side of Chicago, a predominately black area of the city, which feeds into the uniqueness that one inevitably experiences here. I serve as a community health worker at Advocate Trinity Hospital, which means that my service entails me existing in a position where I act as the link between the community members I work with and the, typically health, institutions the community utilizes. This is vague for a reason; as a community health worker, I have the capacity to aid clients with any number of the social determinants which affect their health. One of the greatest tools I see as having the ability to make the most impact on an individual's well-being is knowledge and awareness... for the more you know, the better you are equipped to handle what ever may come your way. This applies, too, to a person’s ability to not only survive, but thrive.

One way in which the Community Health Department at Advocate Trinity Hospital has committed to addressing this is by hosting free and open to the public events entitled “Ladies Night” and “Men’s Health”. Collectively, these events are hosted four times a year and are held at various venues in the community, usually churches who extend their space for the events. The goal is to bring together community members for a night of fellowship and learning that is centered around a particular health topic. The most recent gathering was the Ladies Night: GO RED event that focused on women’s heart health awareness. Doctors and nurses from Trinity joined us to talk with the community about what it means to be heart healthy, preventative measures we can take to ensure this, and to educate about some of the surgeries and treatments available to those who have had a stroke or heart attack. The attendees were able to also have their blood pressure and glucose checked by the diabetes educator at Trinity and other NHC Chicago members who joined me that evening.

Overall, the event was a success! The community members were engaged and even stayed later than the end time to make sure their questions were asked and answered. Many of the women came up to me during and after Ladies Night: GO RED to express how grateful they were that we host such events because they see the need and the value for the education and awareness. Advocate Trinity’s service areas are characterized by high rates of chronic diseases such as asthma, COPD, congestive heart failure, and sickle cell anemia. This coupled with the fact that management of these conditions is generally poor and the lack of non-profit public health organizations (many of which exist on the north and west sides of Chicago) leads to a disparity that is seen and felt by many in this community. However, this has presented Trinity Hospital with the opportunity to utilize and partner with the services we do have available and harness that power towards creating programs such as Ladies Night, to do what we can and work with the resources available to ensure that our community members can thrive.

This blog post was written by NHC Chicago 2016-17 member Ureka Ajawara.

Ureka is a Community Health Worker at Advocate Trinity Hospital.