Working in partnership for the health of the West Side
No single institution or government agency can remove the intertwined social, economic, and environmental barriers to staying healthy. Dismantling these barriers is an ambitious, long-term effort that requires coordination among community-based organizations, government institutions, schools, social services agencies, religious institutions and, especially, residents seeking to build a healthier West Side.
For years, residents and organizations have worked to address issues that have an impact on health. While these efforts have served the community well in many ways, they have often operated in isolation and have had to compete for dwindling resources.
Pooling everyone’s best ideas and resources and targeting specific neighborhoods can have a bigger impact. That’s why Rush has taken a leading role in incubating and launching the West Side Total Health Collaborative, or WSTHC, to connect, coordinate and magnify the impact of institutional and grassroots efforts to improve community health.
Beginning in March 2017, Rush organized more than 20 listening sessions in eight neighborhoods, where nearly 500 participants shared their insights not only into the West Side’s economic and health challenges, but also into the undervalued resources that provide connections, services and hope.
The WSTHC will formally launch in 2018. Its 16-member planning committee of eight residents and eight representatives from government, nonprofit, education and health care institutions will propose a series of initiatives to improve neighborhood health by addressing inequalities in health care, education, economic vitality and the physical environment. The overarching goal: to halve the 16-year life-expectancy gap between the Loop and West Garfield Park by 2028.
A subcommittee of the WSTHC, the Westside Anchor Committee, is made up of nine hospitals and health systems that serve West Side neighborhoods. Each is adopting its own Anchor Mission Strategy to leverage core business practices of hiring, purchasing, investing and volunteering to build health and economic vitality in these communities.