Northwestern students, fellows, and faculty are influencing public health in their communities. Read some of their stories below.
Puerto Rican Men Left Without Resources on Chicago’s Streets
“He had no idea what to do or where to go.” Adriana Cardona-Maguigad, a former fellow in the Social Justice News Nexus program housed in NU’s Medill School of Journalism, uncovered something shocking when she began talking to the homeless men hanging out in the neighborhood where she worked. The men, originally from Puerto Rico, had been given one-way tickets to Chicago to attend drug treatment facilities, only to find that the facilities were not licensed and had no doctors, nurses, or medicine. After quitting the facilities, they were left on the streets with no money, documentation, or health resources. Adriana published her findings with the Chicago public radio station WBEZ and appeared on NPR’s This American Life to bring these men’s stories to a national audience.
Northwestern Students Bring Health Resources to Evanston and Skokie
The Erie Family Health Center, serving the communities of Evanston and Skokie, was under capacity yet residents reported that they didn’t have access to health care. NU students Brittany Zelch and Emery Weinstein addressed this issue by helping found the HIRCULES Health Hub, which helps provide health information to residents. Among their initiatives are creating a database of community health resources, and training NU students as medical librarians to help library patrons find health information. They first introduced their idea in a blog post for Illinois Health Matters, a website that provides information on health care reform to Illinois residents. Brittany and Emery went on to win the Illinois Health Matters Young Leader Award.
Northwestern Professor Tailors Health-Focused Technology to Fit People’s Lifestyles
Lots of people buy wearable devices and use smartphone apps, but not many will stick with them over time. How can we change this? Bonnie Spring, PhD, Director of Northwestern’s Center for Behavior and Health, hopes to change technology to match people’s lifestyles rather than the other way around. She recently helped develop a weight-loss smartphone app and found that people who were more social and used the app’s chatroom were more likely to still be using the app six months later. She’s also building a cardiovascular health app for NU students that will tailor health recommendations to users’ personal and academic goals. Finally, she’s on the Scientific Advisory Board for a new startup that will provide specific health coaching based on patients’ personal data, collected from DNA, blood and saliva, microbiome, and lifestyle.