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Health Access Improves, Crime Down in Enos Park

Published Date:

January 16, 2017 — More than 100 Enos Park neighborhood residents had better access to health care, dental care, mental health care and other quality-of-life services, thanks to the Access to Care Collaborative, which celebrated its first year in October 2016. Enos Park, a vulnerable, low-income neighborhood, encompasses 36 square blocks of residential and business properties north of downtown Springfield. 

Memorial Medical Center and HSHS St. John’s Hospital are collaborating with SIU Center for Family Medicine to fund the three-year program, which was designed to help Enos Park neighborhood residents navigate the complicated health care system. 

“The first year has been remarkably successful,” said SIU project director Tracey Smith, DNP. “We not only met our initial goals to make our clients self-sufficient, but we addressed other needs, such as housing and referrals to social service agencies.” 

The program grew out of the Community Health Needs Assessment for Sangamon County, which identified the top health priorities. One priority was increasing access to care. As a result, the hospitals allocated $500,000 to fund the program. Three community health workers have been hired to work directly in the neighborhood, under Smith’s leadership. The Enos Park Neighborhood Improvement Association has also been a key collaborator. Enos Park has socioeconomic factors such as a high poverty rate, unemployment and homelessness that contribute to poor health outcomes. 

Over the past year, 111 Enos Park residents enrolled in the program. With the help of the community health workers, these individuals, youths and families gained access to health care, including dental services, primary care and mental health services and enrolled in health insurance. About 70 percent of the services provided were for basic needs such as housing, food and clothing. More than 400 additional Enos Park residents benefited from other services, such as the bike club, summer enrichment program and holiday activities. 

Beyond helping them achieve self-sufficiency, clients say the program also restored their dignity and respect and brought joy to their lives, especially during the recent holiday season. Termaine, a 24-year-old single mother of four, said, “I didn’t know if I’d be able to give my kids Christmas this year. [The collaborative] gave me presents for them. It was great, and it was really unexpected.”

“The results from the first year of the Enos Park Access to Care Collaborative have far exceeded our expectations,” said Ed Curtis, president and CEO of Memorial Health System. “We are encouraged by the outcomes for the first year of the program and the new collaborations that are developing to address community health issues. This success is a credit to the collaborative efforts of the SIU Center for Family Medicine, HSHS St. John's Hospital and Memorial Medical Center.”

“We launched the Enos Park Initiative as a way to improve access to health care, but the success we’ve seen goes beyond what we anticipated,” said Kim Luz, divisional director of community outreach, HSHS St. John’s Hospital. “This initiative is addressing social determinants of health, including access to housing, transportation, food, jobs and neighborhood safety. Meeting these basic human needs is vital to population health improvement. The Enos Park Access Collaborative is not only improving access to health care but it is enabling our clients to achieve sustainable health.”

Benefits to the enrolled clients:

  • 100% of enrollees selected a primary care medical home
  • 50% improvement in health care coverage
  • 50% increase in employment
  • 25% improvement in health status

Community benefits:

  • Parolee recidivism and neighborhood crime decreased in the area 
  • 40 new partners joined the collaborative
  • 38% decrease in unnecessary emergency department visits 

"Trust Building" Aspects Magazine, Spring 2016


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