CHICAGO (WLS) — A new digital platform is being launched at places of worship on the city’s South and West sides.
The initiative is designed to answer people’s health questions in places they trust while addressing health disparities in Black communities.
“I think that it’s great. I have a lot of health issues, too, and I think that would be great that we have it here in the church,” said Mildred Baskin.
The Faith 1 Network and public charity Patient Point Foundation have partnered to install digital health kiosks in sanctuaries.
“Our communities are marginalized. We don’t have great health care information and services, so it makes sense to me that it starts from the church,” said Rev. Robin Hood.
Faith 1 Network founder Pastor Henry Barlow said the interactive engagement platform provides health care education and access to doctors and clinics.
“We have to take better care of ourselves, and some of these fears that we had, ‘they were just wives’ tales,’ people were being told,” Barlow said.
The plan has the support of the South Side Health Equity Collaborative and Insight Hospital as the effort also attempts to change the misconceptions and distrust some African Americans have about doctors and the medical profession.
“Everyone, from the maintenance crew to the CEO, are working very hard to ensure community care comes first,” said Nedaa Alwawi.
The kiosk has a large touch screen, making it easy to read.
People can access information on nutrition, disease management and mental health for themselves or loved ones.
The program also relies on church members acting as community health ambassadors and trained health coaches.
“So, the ambassadors are accountable for ensuring as people are accessing information and talking to them, that they journey them along and get them the assistance,” said Patient Point Foundation CEO Denyse Ferguson. “The coaches have clinical training.”
The foundation launched the platform last year, and said it already has nearly 2 million users.
Initially, there will be five kiosks installed in churches on the South and West sides. The whole program will roll out to congregations in October.
At a cost of about $2,000, Pastor Richard Patterson’s church in Chatham will get one of the kiosks.
“I think the message of healing is also providing resources for that healing,” Patterson said.
It is great news for South Side church members, like Johnnie Cottrell, who are seeking a healthier quality of life.
“I think it’s great, because it gives us a lot of information about on what our health is all about,” Cottrell said.