According to the Associated Press, the Chicago Department of Public Health has announced the city will be receiving about $1 million in federal funding to provide routine HIV testing and counseling services to Chicago's community mental health and substance abuse centers. The federal grants come from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration. Additionally, the funding comes after the city was granted $500,000 to provide more psychiatric services at the health centers as well.
With the announcement of this grant, here are some facts on how Chicago and Cook County are improving the health services available to residents and difficulties facing these services:
* In his 2012 budget proposal, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel laid out plans to cut mental health clinics in the city as a way to help close the city's large budget gap, according to the Huffington Post.
* The Chicago Tribune noted the budget plan would call for closing six mental health centers in the city as a way to save Chicago taxpayers about $3 million each year.
* About 5,100 of the patients receiving services from the city's mental health centers, approximately 3,000 have no insurance or not enough coverage to receive the specific services they need.
* Earlier this month, it was announced that Chicago would be receiving $8.1 million in federal funding for HIV/AIDS testing over the next five years, which is an increase over the previous $7.4 million, noted the Austin Weekly News.
* HIV/AIDS testing is extremely crucial in Chicago where an estimated 22,000 people are living with the condition and another 5,800 are believed to have the virus but are unaware or have not been tested.
* In November, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced the county would increase its contribution to health care for low-income residents by $2 million, reported another article from the Chicago Tribune.
* The $2 million boost the county's healthcare system would be primarily funding through expanding the tax on titled property, including cars and boats, purchased in Cook County by 1 percent.
* Last year the Cook County Department of Public Health chose to slash a local program through the federal Women, Infants, and Children program after several years of it costing more than what the federal department had allotted, added an article from the Chicago Sun-Times.
* In June, the Cook County health and hospital governing board told the county department to reverse its decision and apply for the WIC program, which provides health screenings for pregnant women and nutritional aid for infants.
Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. As a college student from the Chicago suburbs pursuing two science degrees, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.
- community mental health