Heartland International Health Centers—dba as Heartland Health Centers (HHC) —is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) with eighteen locations, including seven community health centers, seven School-Based health Centers, and four Integrated Care Centers serving Chicago’s north side and nearby suburbs. HHC’s mission is to improve the well-being of the communities it serves by providing accessible, high-quality healthcare. Among HHC’s 27,000 registered patients, the majority are low-income, with 89% of patients falling below 100% of federal poverty level. Twenty-six percent (26%) are uninsured, and 52% are Medicaid insured. Demographically, HHC patients are: 44% Hispanic/Latinx, 22% Black/African American; 16% White; 7% Asian; and with 10% not identifying with a particular race or ethnicity. HHC serves a considerable number of immigrants and refugees, both documented and undocumented Twenty-nine percent (29%) of HHC patients are best served in a language other than English. Over the past 2 years, like many other clinics, HHC’s priorities and resources have been focused on continually changing demands due to COVID19. However, focus is once again shifting to what primary care providers prefer to concentrate on: Prevention, Increasing access to general care, preventive screenings, testing, and follow up care for abnormal results is once again a focus for care teams. With this in mind, Heartland Health Centers aims to make significant improvements in its current cancer screening rates for both colorectal and breast cancer. UDS data for HHC in 2021 show colorectal screening rates at 37.6% and breast cancer screening at 35%. HHC is in a unique position to leverage several technology platforms, primed care teams and population health and data structures that were not present in past efforts to improve cancer screening measures. Based on efforts from 2015-2017 in collaboration with IL Cook CARES, HHC learned the impact of data given to care
teams, the benefits of standing orders to limit barriers to care, and staff education as a method to move the needle on colorectal cancer screening. HHC hopes to utilize and expand these lessons to breast and colorectal cancer screening rates over the next two years. Heartland Health Centers recognizes there are many barriers to patients completing cancer screening. In this regard, HHC aims to forge new partner relationships, coordinate with internal community health workers, and provide resources meant to address some of the noted barriers to cancer screening care. Education for both staff and patients is part of the agreed terms with the project’s NCI collaborator UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center (UCCCC). With UCCCC’s guidance, HHC will direct educational sessions and patient tailored education to promote screening completion. As a main component of this proposal are the positions of Breast and Colorectal Health Navigators which will provide specific tracking and linkage to services. Additionally, a part time care coordinator position is budgeted to assist with outreach and scheduling aspects. These positions dedicated to cancer screening aspects are a lynch pin to ensuring focus remains directed to patient-tailored solutions. HHC aims to improve cancer screening rates that have been severely impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. This proposal guarantees a refocused effort on cancer screening mechanisms that will prove beneficial for the communities and patients served by Heartland Health Centers and the greater Chicagoland area.