Giving Back to Our Neighbors

Northwestern Medicine’s social mission is to improve the health of the communities we serve. From the dedicated efforts of our clinicians to the academic and volunteer work of our faculty, students and trainees, the entire academic health system is committed to giving back to the people we care for and the places we call home.

Clinical care is the most recognizable component of this mission, and we are proud to deliver medically-necessary healthcare to everyone who seeks it, regardless of their ability to pay. In fiscal year 2016, we provided more than $747.3 million to the community through charity care, unreimbursed costs of Medicaid and Medicare, research, education and community health initiatives.

Eric G. Neilson, MD, and Dean M. Harrison.

We also realize that to have the greatest impact, we need to work with our neighbors and learn from them. Our health system has partnered with community-based organizations to identify and respond to priority health concerns within their communities and to systematically reduce barriers to patient care services. Together we have developed important initiatives to promote healthy lifestyles and minimize risk factors for heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases; to provide women’s health services to at-risk women; to address mental health and recreational drug use; and to give some of our community’s most vulnerable patients access to care.

But clinical care alone does not paint a complete picture of the community engagement that advances our mission as an academic health center. Our investigators are also carrying out research with community collaborators on projects to help us better understand and treat the diverse neighborhoods and populations we serve and to deepen discovery beyond the walls of our own labs and clinics. Ronald Ackermann, MD, MPH, our senior associate dean for Public Health explains why this work is so important: “We dedicate our careers to learning, developing and applying strong theories and innovative methodologies toward ultimate goals of improving human health and well-being, but we cannot accomplish our goals if we distance ourselves from the people who have firsthand experience with the problems we are trying to solve.”

It’s also a point of pride for Feinberg that we attract some of the most passionate, motivated and engaged students in the world, all dedicated to improving the world around them. Roopal Kundu, ’01 MD, ’02 GME, our associate dean for Admissions, describes the medical students her team works hard to recruit as “people who want to give back to the community around them in a bigger space than the patient-physician relationship.”

As soon as they arrive at Feinberg, students begin to learn about the communities they will care for, and how to give back. Our first-years go off campus to perform outreach and help care for the uninsured and underserved. They volunteer in community health clinics and choose to rotate through federally qualified health centers. They also develop long-term relationships with high-risk patients through our Education-Centered Medical Home program, which places students in the same outpatient clinic throughout their four years. Students also tutor and mentor children living in poverty, provide free sports physicals and give at-risk children in Chicago opportunities to participate in positive recreational activities, like an annual camping trip. What’s particularly incredible is that our students do all of this while juggling the varied challenges of medical school.

Fundamental to the DNA of Northwestern Medicine is our mission to improve human health. To deliver on that promise, we strive continually to understand the diverse neighborhoods and populations we serve. It’s a pursuit we have come to understand as core to our identity as an academic health system. Working closely with our community partners — more than 200 organizations to date — empowers us to provide unique educational experiences, strengthens our research enterprise and improves outcomes for our patients and communities.

With warm regards,

Eric G. Neilson, MD
Vice President for Medical Affairs
Lewis Landsberg Dean

Dean M. Harrison
President and CEO
Northwestern Memorial Healthcare

MILLION DOLLARS USED BY NORTHWESTERN MEDICINE TO DELIVER HEALTHCARE INITIATIVES TO THE COMMUNITY

YEAR THAT MEDICAL STUDENTS GET INVOLVED IN COMMUNITY OUTREACH OFF CAMPUS

COMMUNITY PARTNERS HELP US PROVIDE EDUCATION, RESEARCH AND POSITIVE OUTCOMES FOR PATIENTS