Rush University Medical Center has been awarded a $10 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish the Rush Center for Urban Health Equity. The aim of the Center is to find ways to promote changes to eliminate the disparities in heart and lung disease affecting inner-city residents.
“Health disparities have persisted or worsened in the past two decades, despite efforts to narrow the gap,” Lynda H. Powell, PhD, the director of the Center and the chairperson of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Rush, said in a news release. “In Chicago alone, if the mortality rate for blacks was the same as for whites, than 4,000 fewer black people would die each year. We must find a way to change this situation.”
The Rush Center for Urban Health Equity is based on the principle that continued documentation of avoidable deaths and disabilities from health disparities in observational studies is insufficient. Instead, the Center is dedicated to preventing health disparities by conducting rigorous behavioral clinical trials and testing interventions across the spectrum from children to the elderly. These interventions, if effective, will have an immediate impact.
The first three research projects will focus on heart failure, depression and pediatric asthma with co-morbid obesity.
A clinical trial led by Powell and James Calvin, MD, director of the Section of Cardiology at Rush, aims to reduce repeated hospitalizations in low-income heart failure patients by improving doctor’s prescription of evidence-based medicine and patients’ adherence to the medicines that have been prescribed.
A second study will use “virtual” teams to coordinate care for older adults with co-morbid depression and metabolic syndrome. The study will be led by Steven Rothschild, MD, associate center director and a family practice physician at Rush, and Erin Emery, PhD, director of Geriatric & Rehabilitation Psychology at Rush.
A third clinical trial is one of the first attempts to simultaneously control both asthma and obesity in high-risk children. The team, led by Molly Martin, MD, pediatrician and assistant professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Rush, has developed strong partnerships with local organizations in the Humboldt Park neighborhood with the aim of targeting the influences of schools, family and caregivers on weight and self-management of asthma.
Community partnerships are at the core of the Center’s vision and values. Residents will become active participants in the design and conduct of all of the interventions to improve their health.