The Chicago Department of Public Health, on May 4, held the first of its meetings to connect service providers and community members with its Healthy Chicago 2.0 initiative for 2016-2020, a date-driven plan that identifies health disparities across the city, which was officially announced in late March.
The meeting was held at Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St., and featured CDPH Commissioner Julie Morita; Jen Brown, director, Alliance for Research in Chicagoland Communities; Maxx Boykin, community organizer for AIDS Foundation of Chicago and member, Black Youth Project 100; and Hector Torres, director of Behavioral Health, Center on Halsted. Ald. Tom Tunney briefly spoke before the panel began, and called Healthy Chicago 2.0 "a comprehensive approach to healthy individuals and healthy public policies."
Morita said that, since the initial Healthy Chicago initiative launched in 2011, Chicagoans are relatively healthier. For example, she added, teenage birth rates are down, less than one in ten youths are smoking, and more people are insured.
But for this new stage of the plan, "We dug deeper into the data and found persistent health disparities," Morita noted.
Healthy Chicago 2.0 identifies 30 goals and 82 objectives, as well as 230 strategies to confront them. Morita said that it acknowledges how various factors can overlap and intersect to have profound impact on the health of Chicagoans. She explained, for example, that where one lives in the city can significantly affect their health, since it determines their proximity to providers, the affordability of their housing and how good schools are.
"Our ZIP code makes more of a difference than our genetic codes," Morita said.
Some audience members were critical of Chicago's diminishing mental-health resources; one member asked Morita if she was satisfied with the availability of those services. Morita emphasized the need to work with with outside agencies and organizations since the better part of its funding comes from external sources.
"We don't envision ourselves as the entire solution," she said.
CDPH also announced that it would be distributing up to six community seed grants, ranging between $10,000-$20,000, to local non-profit organizations working on addressing disparities at the community level.