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Best and Worst - 25,000-49,999 Population
One of the major champions of health in Park Ridge is Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, which staffs and supplies an in-school health clinic at Maine East High School-with financial assistance from a local community fund established by Park Ridge residents. The 2,200-student Maine East draws from the wealthy epicenter of the town, but also from the surrounding unincorporated Maine Township, where affordable housing lures new immigrants. As a result, 67 percent of students at Maine East come from homes where English is not the primary language and where many consider health insurance a luxury.
Situated on the ground floor of the high school, the bright and clean clinic features three exam rooms, a lab, a conference room, and a reception area. “These kids really need this kind of help,” says Tom Higgins, director of community relations at Lutheran General. “If you’re sick, you’re not going to learn.”
Working with the Park Ridge Rotary Club, Lutheran General is also launching a groundbreaking health literacy campaign, one that should help ensure that crucial health dispatches-like instructions
for prescription drugs and hospital discharges-are communicated in sufficient detail to marginally literate and illiterate patients. With the program under way at Advocate hospitals, the Rotary Club is taking the campaign to other interested hospitals in the Chicago region.Harvey
“People around here once had viable, good-paying jobs, but they have had to take less and lower their expectations of life,” she says in her paper-stuffed office at the Human Action Community Organization. “Industry moving out of Harvey left us desperate for jobs and revenue, so we’ve been willing to take whatever we can get. We’ve had to trade health for jobs.”
A high incidence of cancer-1,055 cases in five years-is particularly troublesome in this town with a large African American population. Here, and throughout the United States, black women die at a higher rate from breast cancer than women of other races, and black men have the highest likelihood of getting prostate cancer, says Dr. Mark Kozloff, medical director of the cancer care program at Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey. In the late 1990s, Ingalls Memorial launched a series of outreach and screening programs designed to reduce the rates of death by cancer in Harvey and other southern suburbs. This year, it is expanding the program’s scope beyond breast and prostate cancer to reduced-price screenings for colorectal cancer.
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