Calling Upon Our President: Sign Petition

By now we hope you’ve heard the story of Hadiya Pendleton. She breathed her last breath earlier this week in the middle of the day after being gunned down in a small neighborhood park not far from the Obamas residence in Chicago.  The 15 year-old honors student had recently returned from performing at the President’s second inaugural and her tragic death is eliciting a profound response from a city already reeling from more than 40 youth homicides in this young new year.

We are asking all of you to take action in lending your voices to an online petition submitted by our brothers and sisters at the Black Youth Project calling upon our President to come to Chicago to deliver a major policy speech addressing the type of violence afflicting Chicago and other urban centers across the country.

As debates continue across the country about the scourge of gun violence, Chicago’s inner-city neighborhoods are emerging as a symbol for the tragic consequences wrecking the lives of so many families.  The President rightfully visited Newtown immediately after the horrific tragedy in Connecticut last December, and the time to come to Chicago and deliver the type of speech that calls upon all sectors of our society to come together and invest the necessary material, intellectual and political capital in supporting and introducing initiatives addressing this problem is now!

IMAN is working closely with the Black Youth Project and other tremendous community-based organizations around a joint commitment to proactively address violence and the culture of death in our neighborhoods. This year, we will be opening the Takin’ it to The Streets community festival on Saturday, June 15 with a large rally that will unite many of the great efforts going on around the city to deal with violence, and to renew our commitment to doing all we collectively can to work together and hold each other and our elected official accountable to not being resigned to letting our young people die senselessly in our streets.

MLK Memorial in Marquette Park

IMAN staff marked this year’s Martin Luther King Day by hosting a discussion with several high school students, local educators, and artists around the construction of a memorial to mark Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s march through Marquette Park almost fifty years ago. He and 700 other diverse civil rights activists, religious leaders, and concerned citizens took to the streets of Chicago Lawn on August 5, 1966 to demand equal housing rights, and IMAN has been leading an effort to memorialize this event, and the community that has struggled for justice and equality in its wake, for several years.

IMAN organizers sought to consult with youth leaders as well as local educators and artists about what the impact of a King memorial in their community could be. After viewing some of the images from that day and reading a news clip written on the day after the march, the group discussed how empowering it would be to have a physical monument in the heart of the Marquette Park community, reminding community members of the brave and powerful leaders who have fought for social justice in the area since 1966 and beyond.

In 2011, Gage Park High School students, under the leadership of their social studies teacher Mr. Victor Harbison, unveiled a multi-media kiosk at the park to celebrate the march through pictures, videos and oral histories. Their tremendous project marked the first concrete effort to commemorate Dr. King’s presence in Marquette Park in 1966 and the discussion on MLK Day, January 21, explored the very real possibility of expanding that effort into a more permanent and visible memorial on the grounds of the park. IMAN hopes to deepen this conversation with community members, historians, and artists in the coming months in order to envision the next stage of this initiative.

Health Clinic: Integrating Behavioral and Physical Health Care

The IMAN Health Clinic has always strived to deliver healthcare that is culturally sensitive, holistic and integrated. With the recent addition of Francisco Lozornio, LCSW, as a Behavioral Health specialist, the Clinic has taken a major step toward further concretizing this integrated health care model.  We sat down with Francisco recently to ask him about the importance of behavioral health care in general and for our patient community in particular.

Urban Edge: Why is the IMAN Health Clinic moving towards an integration of behavioral and physical health care?

Lozornio: The IMAN Health Clinic staff clearly understands that we all need to take care of both our physical and our behavioral health needs. The mind and the body cannot be separated; symptoms and illness in one impacts the health of the other. Both physical and behavioral health benefits from prevention efforts, screening tests, routine check-ups, and treatment. Many people have both physical and behavioral health illnesses.

Integration of behavioral and physical health care refers to the intentional, ongoing, and committed coordination and collaboration between all providers treating the individual. Providers recognize and appreciate the interdependence they have with each other to positively impact healthcare outcomes. Ideally, a designated team of behavioral and physical healthcare providers develop a common treatment plan that identifies and addresses both physical health and behavioral health care needs.

Urban Edge: We hear that “Co-occurring Disorders” are a critical part of this integrated model of health care delivery.  What are Co-occurring Disorders?

Lozornio: People who have substance use disorders as well as mental health disorders are diagnosed as having co-occurring disorders, or dual disorders. This is also sometimes called a dual diagnosis.

In the past, mental health disorders and addiction problems were often treated separately, we now know that co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders impact one another and must be treated together. Treating just one disorder will not cause the other to automatically improve. And separate, parallel care for the disorders does not result in one, effective treatment plan. To be effective, both disorders must be treated at the same time, in the same place, by the same treatment team. This is called integrated treatment.

The IMAN Behavioral Health program is taking steps towards an integrated healthcare model approach. A large number of patients currently being treated at the Clinic have co-occurring disorders.

The Clinic also treats a high volume of patients that have severe mental health disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Acute Stress Disorder, Major Depression, and Anxiety caused by violence.