Why We’re Thankful for Advocate Children’s Hospital

November 25, 2015

It’s the time of year to give thanks, and here at Healthy Schools Campaign, we’re thankful for our partners that help us move our work forward both in Chicago and nationally. See more posts in this series.

Last year, nearly 150 staff members from Advocate Children’s Hospital, with campuses in Oak Lawn and Park Ridge, Illinois, planted about 4,500 plants at Morrill Elementary—one of our first Space to Grow schoolyard transformations.

They planted roots for thousands of plants to improve the schoolyard at Morrill, but they were also planting the seeds of a great partnership. Advocate is an example of a health system thinking outside of its hospitals’ doors and reinventing the way the health sector thinks about providing care. We hope it can serve as a blueprint for others across the country and are honored to have them as a partner in our work to create healthier school environments in Chicago.

Moving forward, Healthy Schools Campaign will be working with Advocate and other key partners to explore how we can increase access to school health services for Chicago students. While many students in Chicago come to school with chronic illnesses that can impact their ability to learn, the majority of them do not have access to health services during the school day. This is an issue that both Healthy Schools Campaign and Advocate are committed to addressing.

More than 180,000 of Chicago’s Medicaid beneficiaries receive their health care through Advocate, many of which are children in CPS. HSC will be helping this forward-thinking health system figure out how to provide more comprehensive and coordinated care to the Medicaid beneficiaries it serves. And we’ll be working with schools to do it.

For example, Belmonte says, if a school is dealing with violence, it doesn’t really help for Advocate to go in with an asthma manager. “This is a different conversation than we’ve ever had before, and I’m excited about it,” he says.

But the work goes one step further. It’s about not only providing care but linking health with educational outcomes. “If we can break down the silos between the academic world and the health world, and really prove that health improves academic achievement, I think we can do some fantastic work.”

We’re excited to see where this work goes, and we’re so thankful to be on this road with such a great partner. Thanks, Advocate Children’s Hospital!