Healthcare in the Shadows

UIC College of Nursing Serves Inner City Chicago

Posted by on Wednesday, August 26, 2015 in News.

Liz Raleigh at Humboldt Park Clinic

The UIC College of Nursing (CON) plays a vital role Chicago’s safety net.  The nurse practitioner faculty providers and their support staff care for 1800 unique patients who generate 11,000 visits per year, the majority of which are for Medicaid and uninsured patients.

The CON’s three sites operate under the UIC’s federally qualified health center umbrella that allows these sites to collect enhanced reimbursement from federal programs like Medicaid and Medicare, although there are challenges with the Medicaid managed care companies that recently took over Medicaid service delivery from the state. Some of these companies refuse to reimburse non-physician providers; others make it difficult for NP providers to be paid for their services even when nurse practitioners are acknowledged as in network.  These challenges are not unique to Illinois, however as the managed Medicaid initiatives are new for this state, funds flow has been difficult for CON clinics in the past year or so.  Associate Dean Nancy Valentine, RN, PhD, FAAN and her team members, Liz Raleigh, Director of Provider Practice and Diane Cesarone, MSN, RN, Director of Quality and Patient Safety, are working with UIC officials to meet these challenges and insure a smoother funds flow to the clinics and to the CON.

Another challenge involves space.  Two of the clinics are tiny but mighty when meeting the community’s needs.  One, the South New City site, is embedded within a community agency that serves people with chronic mental illnesses.  Many of the CON patients are clients and/or residents from this agency.  Obtaining primary care for patients with chronic and persistent mental illness is a huge challenge nationwide.  This unique arrangement between CON and the community agency is filling a gap in health services without a doubt and likely preventing unnecessary emergency room visits as well.

I spoke with several patients during my visits to these three sites.  All of them expressed their appreciation of the healthcare they receive within their neighborhoods from the nurse practitioners. They told me they would have to travel to other parts of the city otherwise which costs time and money that they simply don’t have.  The community outreach events were a big hit, too, when they and their neighbors and friends get health screenings, healthy living information and prizes.  The UIC CON clinics’ signs all say “Integrated” and clearly these sites and their nurse providers are well integrated into the communities they serve.

Entrance to The North Clinic


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