5 years of violence prevention and recovery efforts

5 years of violence prevention and recovery efforts

When Dr. Oyinkansola Okubanjo thinks back on her childhood growing up on the South Side of Chicago, she remembers all the free programs run by community organizations that helped shape her as a teen.

“Community organizations saved us all,” says Dr. Okubanjo, an emergency medicine physician at Advocate Health Care and medical director of DEI for Advocate Medical Group. “It kept all of us out of trouble.”

Dr. Okubanjo even credits the Live from the Heart program for sparking her interest in medicine. The program shows students heart transplant surgery and educates them on health care careers through a partnership with Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry and Advocate Christ Medical Center. She now treats patients coming to Advocate Christ’s emergency room.

These programs are important to these communities, Dr. Okubanjo told attendees at a summit to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Southland RISE – a collaborative between Advocate Health Care and the University of Chicago Medicine.

Launched in 2019, Southland RISE (Resilience Initiative to Strengthen and Empower) integrates the violence recovery and trauma programs of the two health systems. These joint resources allow Southland RISE to foster community collaborations and create interventions that wouldn’t be possible through any one organization.

For the past five years, Southland RISE has brought together hospitals, community leaders, and other stakeholders to find solutions to violence on Chicago’s South Side and surrounding suburbs. This has resulted in funding for many community organizations operating in the area.

“Meeting the needs of survivors of violence requires more than caring for their physical wounds,” says Kim Miiller, the director of trauma recovery and resilience at Advocate Health Care. “We build relationships with patients and connect them with resources as part of a sustained process of trauma recovery support.”

Over the past five years, Southland RISE has distributed $650,000 in grant funding to more than 50 community-based violence intervention programs on Chicago’s South Side and south suburbs.

With funding provided by Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA), Southland RISE also administers an emergency relief fund to support those impacted by trauma and violence — helping more than 100 individuals and their families to date.

Southland RISE was inspired by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin’s Chicago HEAL Initiative (Hospital Engagement, Action and Leadership), which urges Chicagoland’s health care providers to help reduce community violence and address health care needs associated with violence recovery.

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  1. Carolyn Glover April 18, 2024 at 1:49 am · Reply

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About the Author

Kate Thayer
Kate Thayer

Kate Thayer, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator with Advocate Health Care. She spent nearly two decades as a journalist, most recently as a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. Throughout her career, Kate has written about public health, politics, government, education and legal issues, along with human interest stories. She enjoys running, podcasts and her twin daughters.