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Building a Community-Academic Partnership to Improve Health Outcomes in an Underserved Community


Eileen McCann, Rush University Medical Center College of Nursing, Chicago, IL 60612. E-mail:


ABSTRACT East Garfield Park, IL, is an impoverished community with 59.7% of residents falling below twice the poverty level and 42.6% of its children in poverty. In 2001, the leading causes of hospitalizations were heart disease (10.3%), diabetes (2%), and asthma (3.9%), all of which occur at frequencies 33% greater than the Chicago average. Finally, a review of the health care facilities in the community suggests that there is a need for accessible primary health care services in the area. The purpose of this project was to improve health outcomes in an impoverished, underserved community with documented health care needs and lack of adequate health care services by creating a community-academic partnership to provide on-site, interdisciplinary, health care services within an established and trusted community-based social service agency, Marillac House. The short-term objectives for this project included creating a community-academic partnership between Marillac House and Colleges of Nursing, Medicine, and Health Sciences; providing comprehensive health care services; and developing an innovative clinical education model for interdisciplinary care across specialties. Long-term objectives included providing preventative services; evidenced-based management of acute and chronic illness; evaluating client's health outcomes; and creating a sustainability plan for the long-term success of the health center.