New ‘Health Navigators’ Work to Increase Healthcare Access

IMAN is pleased to announce the addition of a new team of Health Navigators to its growing Health Center staff. In collaboration with Chicago Public Schools, Health Navigators will help to ensure that local parents and children are enrolled in health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

IMAN trained two current staff members, Medical Assistant Rosa Mandujano, who serves as a bilingual English-Spanish navigator, and Organizer Robert Jones to take on this crucial role. Additionally, Donica Ousley was recruited and hired as a full-time Health Navigator. As a part of their certification process, the trio completed nearly 100 hours of comprehensive training over a four-week period of 4 weeks.

Currently, many millions of Americans remain uninsured, including over 900,000 Illinois residents living without health insurance. Nationwide, ACA marketplace signups so far in 2018 are occuring at a rate 3.7 percent lower than last year’s enrollment period, according to a recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Amid steep reductions in federal funding for healthcare outreach and specialized community support like health navigators—not to mention a shortened enrollment period and a climate of political uncertainty surrounding the healthcare laws—IMAN remains committed to
fighting for the health and wellness of Chicagoland communities. Our Health Navigator team is a significant step forward as we continue building trust and relationships with families who need and deserve access to healthcare.

Local Seniors Learn Self-Defense

This month’s Senior Wellness Luncheon hosted by the Health Center, focused on providing senior citizens with ways to protect themselves in dangerous situations. Ramy Daoud, owner and head coach of Phoenix Sports Empire in Naperville, introduced the seniors to basic self-defense techniques during the hour-long session. Seniors learned various blocking methods and proper movements to handle and escape a potential attacker. Those in attendance were excited to try something new and felt that learning self-defense skills is extremely useful in today’s environment.

“I have been attacked from behind,” said Jean Davis a 70-year-old attendee who travels to IMAN from suburban Lansing to attend the monthly luncheons, “Nowadays they are attacking everybody, they don’t care.”

The self-defense lesson also included methods for seniors with limited mobility like Rosemary Meriweather, a 66-year-old grandmother using a rollator walker who feared the hands-on session would not be useful to someone like her, “He showed me what I can do”.

Meriweather has been attending IMAN’s luncheons for over a year and says she enjoys coming each month and always leaves with something informative—from recipes to life tips, like how to protect herself and her family. “I am raising two granddaughters and I’m going to teach them some of these moves.”

Self-defense is extremely important, specifically for older adults as they are seen as a vulnerable population. Participants were asked topics of interest and self-defense rated amongst the highest. Instructor Daoud, who has been doing martial arts for 25 years and currently works as a professional fighter, says it is a skill everyone should have and he looks forward to returning to IMAN to lead more sessions.

The senior luncheon highlights a sense of purpose, feelings of belongings, increased self-esteem, confidence and improved physical and mental health. The luncheon allows participants to nurture their soul by socializing, keeping active and building connections with others in the community.

Community Health Center Expands Services

True to IMAN’s mission of fostering health, wellness and healing, the Community Health Center enjoyed significant growth in both facilities and personnel in 2017. Through a partnership with Islamic Relief USA, the Youth & Family Health Center opened in the fall to offer direct services to some of the community’s most vulnerable individuals. As our reach expanded, IMAN hired several additional health providers and administrative staff to better serve patients. The staff now features seven full-time equivalents and seven volunteer medical providers.

The Community Health Center successfully applied as a Federally Qualified Health Center “lookalike”, and was given a passing grade upon initial review. This represents a major step forward in the Health Center’s evolution from a free clinic into a full-fledged, federally qualified operation offering a wide range of healthcare options to underserved communities. With over 3,700 patient visits this year, the possibilities for deeper, more prevention-centered levels of care are sky high.

In addition to primary care, IMAN’s Behavioral Health saw 1,200 patients in 2017. The dynamic team of licensed counselors, social workers and bright young interns integrated their healing techniques into programs ranging from Green ReEntry to the Beloved Community Ceramic Arts Studio. The recently formed partnership between IMAN and the Chicago Muslim Dental Society (CMDS) yielded significant, mutual benefits. After the formal launch of a biweekly “working group” last month, IMAN’s Oral Health work has received crucial advice on best practices, generous donations of industry-standard equipment, and a growing pool of volunteer dentists.

We ask you to keep the efforts of all of IMAN’s holistic healthcare staff in your prayers as they continue to serve the Chicagoland community. Interested volunteers and interns should contact info@imancentral.org for more information. We ask The Most High to make us worthy of your continued support.

Local Dentists Help Boost IMAN’s Oral Health Work

The recently formed partnership between IMAN and the Chicago Muslim Dental Society (CMDS) has already yielded significant, mutual benefits. After the formal launch of a biweekly “working group” last month, IMAN’s Oral Health work has received crucial advice on best practices, generous donations of industry-standard equipment, and a growing pool of volunteer dentists. At the same time, CMDS has been able to make a tremendous impact in a Chicago community that is drastically underserved with regard to oral health.

Volunteer relationships and community partnerships have always been central to the mission and expansion of our larger health and wellness work. Since the launch of IMAN’s Oral Health Clinic in 2016, plans for strategic, holistic expansion have been prepared. What began as basic dental screenings and referrals has now grown into a fully operational oral health center serving a growing number of local patients.

IMAN’s relationship with CMDS pre-dates its Oral Health Clinic, initiated through a bond with a long-time supporter. Understanding the dire need for accessible, affordable dental care on Chicago’s Southwest Side, both organizations brought their expertise to the table in order to build the infrastructure necessary for a meaningful intervention. As IMAN’s Health Clinic offerings-including oral health-continue to grow, the CMDS partnership demonstrates the profound impact of a broader Chicagoland Muslim health community which truly believes in and contributes to delivering dignified care to individuals and families most directly-affected by health crises.