Moving Forward: IMAN’s Behavioral Health Program

Up to 28% of Americans have a diagnosable behavioral health condition, and few seek treatment. In the primary care setting such as IMAN Health Clinic, the majority of visits have a psychological basis. Health centers, as primary care providers to 15 million medically underserved individuals, are critically important sources of behavioral health services. With the recent budgetary cuts leading to closure of mental health facilities in our area, the need for mental health services has escalated and contributed to the increase in violence in schools and communities, along with gun shootings.  Behavioral problems in schools conjoined with unstable family structures create a vicious cycle of unaddressed emotional issues, for both the future and present generations.  Violence is a symbol of the human outcry that all hope has been lost

It is abundantly clear that behavioral health stands out as a compelling and immediate issue confronting communities that the IMAN Health Clinic serves, as well as the national health care and prisons systems. The disproportionately high rate of mental disorders in prisons is related to several factors: the widespread misconception that all people with mental disorders are a danger to public; the general intolerance of society to difficult or disturbing behavior; the failure to promote treatment, care, and rehabilitation; and above all, the lack of access to mental health services.  In short, our society would rather inhumanely imprison people with psychiatric illness than spend time and money to rehabilitate those who suffer from mental health issues.

In response to these issues, IMAN began a mental health program last year by hiring Francisco Lorenzo, a licensed clinical social worker. Though the general support of LISC and our partnership with SWOP, Francisco implemented a program to address pediatric mental health issues, both within local community schools and utilized our Clinic to provide services to adults and families.  Chicago Community Trust allowed us to expand our work by hiring a marriage and family therapist, Fatima Noubani.  If you would like to join us in moving forward our mission to alleviate barrier to mental health care services, please make your commitment by applying for the Behavioral Health Coordinator position in our Clinic.

Health Clinic Update: Expanded Services

The IMAN Health Clinic has been moving steadily towards its vision of becoming a comprehensive health center offering an array of services, including acupuncture, focused asthma visits, family, group, and marriage counseling. The Clinic is projected to extend its current operating hours to 7 days a week by the end of the current year (2013). Mental health services including marital, family, and individual counseling will be offered 5 days a week.

At present, we have a volunteer nurse practitioner, Susan Kilrakas, with extensive VA hospital work experience who has joined our team. With focused interest in diabetic foot care, she has been coming twice a week to provide patient education, physicals, and diabetes education.  As we have reopened our children’s vaccine program, Kilrakas has been instrumental in administering vaccines with her comforting bedside manners and skill in handing our pediatric patients.

Clinic-4The coming of October, 2013, marks the 10th successful group of Everest medical administrative students completing their externship in our Clinic. Many of these internship students are single mothers who are aspiring for careers in the medical field, and are filled with hope to improve their own lives and the future of their young children. Completion of their internship not only means a promise of better job prospects, but also alleviation of their financial concerns regarding support of their young children. Through this internship, they gain a strong recommendation letter, professional networks, and a great experience working with our diverse patient population.

Fatima Noubani, our volunteer family marriage therapist, has continued to provide weekly counseling sessions. Her contribution is of special importance to our community due to the closure of mental health clinics in our area. With Medicaid being a requirement for access to mental health, IMAN’s mental health program is one of the few free counseling programs in the Chicagoland, and a vital source of mental health care for both homeless and immigrant patients. Fatima’s Arabic speaking skills and her Muslim faith have attracted the Muslim patient population, a unique niche where mental health needs are unmet due to fear of personal stigma.

Lastly, we are looking forward to having Drs. Ibrahim Mansoor and Sarah Ahmed join our team in October. It’s an exciting time of growth at the IMAN Health Clinic. We hope to have continued community support in order help our Clinic reach its full potential!

Health Clinic: More Milestones

In response to the lack of access to healthcare on the South Side of Chicago, IMAN’s Health Clinic began as a grassroots clinic providing health screenings two days a week. With prioritization and planning within the organization, and generous support of community partnerships, IMAN’s Clinic has become its most rapidly growing program.  Over the last four years, IMAN’s Clinic has transitioned from a basic, grassroots clinic into a comprehensive health center that operates five days a week: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. In 2010, Dr. Altaf Kaiseruddin, MD, became the Clinic’s first Medical Director and paid staff physician, a goal that the Clinic had established since its beginning. In 2012, IMAN’s Health Clinic served 834 unduplicated patients through 3,127 visits.

A group of volunteer physicians and allied professionals, who provide their time and commitment to the Clinic, have been central to our growth and success. Dr. Sarah Ahmed, an emergency room physician, and Dr. Haque, a specialist in pain medicine and rehabilitation, are two volunteer physicians who have joined our Clinic’s team of physicians. Dr. Haque provides acupuncture services. Two other memebers of the team are Dr. Deeba Masood, who provides focused asthma visits, and Sarah Syed, who has been providing free on-site ultrasound services to our Clinic.  A new team member, Dr. Ibrahim Mansoor, is expected to join the Clinic soon!

IMAN’s Health Clinic has a commitment to community education and the Clinic staff is committed to the development of young professionals in healthcare. Through partnerships with local allied health centers, such as Everest College and Elam Institute, the Clinic has become an externship training site for medical assistants and medical administrative assistants, who are under the guidance of Dr. Adiba Khan, MD.  Third- and fourth-year medical students are exposed to primary care and the challenges of caring for the indigent patient population, as they work with our medical director, Dr. Kaiseruddin. Fransisco Lorozonio, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) counselor, oversees graduate social work students from the University of Chicago, and introduces them to the complexities of mental health issues in a primary care setting.

The Health Clinic is looking forward and preparing to experience exponential growth and development in 2013, as it continues on its trajectory to becoming a free-standing health center that provides a full complement of health services to address the needs of Chicago’s South Side. Please look for more exciting announcements related to the Health Clinic in our upcoming editions!

Health Clinic Expands Hours and Services

The Health Clinic is one of the many inspiring and vital programs at IMAN. As a result of long-term planning and the confidence of the community it serves, the Clinic has recently seen tremendous growth in its hours, services, relationships and impact.  This exponential growth started in 2010 when, with the generous support of Islamic Relief USA, we were able to hire the Clinic’s first Medical Director.

In November, Dr. Altaf Kaiseruddin, a family practitioner who has been working in the South Side of Chicago for many years, is celebrating his two-year anniversary as the Medical Director of the IMAN Health Clinic.  With Dr. Kaiseruddin working as both Medical Director and staff physician along with our dedicated physician volunteers, such as Dr. Deeba Masood, Dr. Mohammed Haque, and Dr. Ahsan Arozullah, the Clinic has been able to extend its hours from two to five days/week.  In addition to serving as a full-time community center providing a full complement of healthcare services, our Clinic is now an educational site for young aspiring volunteers and medical students who can gain valuable experience in healthcare under the guidance of physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.

In addition to expanded hours, the IMAN Clinic is able to offer new and much needed services to our community, including in-house ultrasound services, focused asthma visits, pain medicine management visits, acupuncture, patient medication assistance programs, support groups, and tuberculosis skin testing.  In a very recent and exciting development, we have added a mental health clinic that started operation in the month of October.  Francisco Lozornio, a licensed clinical social worker and an adjunct professor at Northeastern Illinois University, will be providing individual, group, and family counseling in our Clinic. Additionally, he will be working with adolescents in nearby schools.  Students from the University of Chicago’s Social Work Department will be shadowing Lozornio as part of their clinical rotation at our site.

Lozornio’s clinical social worker position and counseling services at the IMAN Health Clinic are a joint collaboration between IMAN and Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP), and are funded by LISC Chicago.

Francisco J. Lozornio has recently joined IMAN’s Health Clinic as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. He also holds an adjunct professorship at Northeastern Illinois University, Social Work Program. Previously, Lozornio was the Director of the Behavioral Health Service program at the Valley Community Clinic, a Federally Qualified Health Center, in the Los Angeles area in California.  Most recently, Francisco worked at Marquette Elementary School in Chicago as a Behavioral Health Consultant.