In this time of economic cutbacks, five local service agencies put their heads together in 2009 for some creative thinking that benefits a whole lot of Chicagoans. They created the West Side Collaborative to improve the efficiency of healthcare delivered to their clients, to improve access to care, and to drive down the number of emergency room visits by finding clients medical homes.
Cathedral Shelter, Deborah’s Place, Facing Forward to End Homelessness, Marillac Social Center and the Primo Center for Women and Children use the West Side Collaborative to help patients overcome barriers to healthcare.
“Our primary goal is to reduce healthcare barriers by connecting patients with a medical home, rather than the emergency room,” said Angela Weeden, West Side Collaborative’s medical home coordinator. “We start with primary care so that we can discover what all their needs are.
“Ideally, we get a referral from a case manager at one of the collaborative agencies. We figure out what kind of benefits they might have or qualify for, we help them find a dentist, and we assist them with transportation. But the clients makes their own appointment; the case manager might be in the room, but we are helping them to become independent consumers of healthcare.”
The West Side Collaborative is it its third year of operation, and aims to assist more than 500 clients — many of whom need dental care. They are seeking dentist volunteers to treat patients in their own offices. General dental care and specialty care is needed for people of all ages, including some clients with special needs.
“It’s rewarding to know that you helped somebody get back on their feet,” Ms. Weeden said. “Often we think people choose to be homeless, but the truth is we’re all one or two paychecks away from homelessness. That’s why it’s rewarding to help people get back on track to lead happy, successful lives.
For more information or to volunteer, contact Ms. Weeden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312.997.2222 ex. 244.