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UChicago Medicine invests $607 million in community benefits for South Side and Southland

The University of Chicago Medicine contributed $606.9 million in benefits and services to residents of the South Side and Southland areas in fiscal 2021, according to the latest annual report that outlines the academic health system’s investments in and support of the community.

The total investment includes $520.4 million from the University of Chicago Medical Center and $86.5 million from UChicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial, based in Harvey, and extends across 35 neighborhoods within 12 ZIP codes on the city’s South Side and 19 suburbs across 13 south suburban ZIP codes in the Southland. The contribution covers uncompensated care, charity services, unrecoverable patient debt, medical education and research, and other community support.

UChicago Medicine’s 2021 Community Benefit Report highlights programs, partnerships and initiatives aimed at improving health equity and addressing top health priorities in its service areas. Residents in these communities face significantly higher rates of chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, obesity, breast cancer, sexually transmitted infections and HIV, as well as higher incidence of unemployment, poverty and food insecurity.

“As long as the vast health disparities exist in both South Side and Southland communities — where life expectancy can be 30 years shorter than neighborhoods just 10 miles north — we have to be intentional in our pursuit of health equity,” said Brenda Battle, UChicago Medicine’s Senior Vice President for Community Health Transformation and its Chief Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Officer.

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Community benefit programs and activities are stewarded by the Urban Health Initiative, the medical center’s division that works with community organizations on health-related programs, research and services, and guided by the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), which are reported every three years. UChicago Medicine’s Community Advisory Council, led by civic and faith leaders, also provides guidance on key community health concerns, including racial disparities and social determinants of health.

The 2021 Community Benefit Report also summarizes how the South Side-based academic health system responded to the needs of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, not only through the care provided, but also through programs and partnerships designed to encourage vaccination in Black and brown communities, where vaccination rates were lagging.

In 2021, UChicago Medicine treated more than 2,000 patients for COVID-19, performed more than 295,000 tests, administered 134,000 vaccines to more than 69,000 people, and increased COVID-19-related research publications by 36%.

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