CommunityHealth: 2016-2017

Approximately one in three adults in the United States has hypertension, which increases risk of serious and fatal conditions, such as heart disease and stroke. This risk increases even further when one is uninsured and low-income, as the appropriate health care and education is often out of reach.

CommunityHealth is the nation’s largest free clinic and provides comprehensive, high-quality health care to more than 8,000 low-income, uninsured patients in Chicago. To meet the unique needs of their uninsured patients with uncontrolled hypertension, CommunityHealth created the Hypertension Care Group, funded by Washington Square Health Foundation, to provide hands-on, coordinated care that centers and engages the patient in their health care plan. Through this innovative program, patients work closely with a multi-disciplinary team of health care providers, such as physicians, nurses, clinical pharmacists, social workers and registered dieticians. Patients have access to frequent 1:1 appointments to assess their progress and address their unique challenges and barriers. In addition, beyond the education received in these appointments, patients have the opportunity to attend health education classes, such as cooking and nutrition.

This program engaged 70 participants in its pilot year, and nearly 70% of them achieved blood pressure control within 6 months of starting the program. Gerald, a 37 year old CommunityHealth patient, was hospitalized twice due to a hypertension-related stroke before he joined the Hypertension Care Group. During his regular 1:1 visits with the Hypertension Care Group team, Gerald learned how his diet was affecting his blood pressure, and figured out ways to adhere to his medication regimen, even with his hectic work schedule. After four visits, Gerald’s blood pressure is now under control and he reports no further visits to the emergency room.