The American Medical Association Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the American Medical Association, donated $100,000 to West Side United to help West Siders with high blood pressure get the care and support they need. 

On Feb. 26, West Side United announced a partnership with AMA and the Northern Trust to address healthcare disparities on the West Side and provide funding for West Side economic development with a  combined $6 million investment. 

The newest donation will support this partnership, providing money to buy equipment and support to help residents manage blood pressure at home. The organizations involved in the partnership said that the support is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, since many residents may be putting off treatment due to concerns about getting the disease, and because high blood pressure can exacerbate their symptoms they do catch the virus.

West Side United was established by the Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital and five health systems that are based on and/or have hospitals on the West Side. The organization’s mission is to improve the health of West Siders while addressing external factors, such as economic disinvestment and inequities in education. 

The $6 million investment allowed them to put money into businesses and community organizations throughout the West Side.

According to AMAF President Jacqueline Bello, the donations will go toward helping patients take care of their blood pressure at home and conducting more community outreach about the dangers of high blood pressure. 

“Through the AMAF funds, underserved patients within the West Side community will gain access to [blood pressure] measurement devices, with the provision of vital equipment and wrap-around support to enable effective hypertension management at home,” she stated.  

“The funds will also help facilitate future initiatives such as a community-wide summit that will bring together West Side [health care organizations] and other community organizations to improve [blood pressure] control,” she said. 

AMA did not respond to request for comment seeking more details about how the funds may be used by deadline.

Lisa Hinton, the executive director of the American Heart Association Metro Chicago, said that getting blood pressure under control is more important during the pandemic. 

“High blood pressure is the leading cause of heart attack and stroke, and it may be a contributing factor for poor outcomes in people who have contracted COVID-19,” she stated. “This investment from the AMA Foundation comes at a critical time for patients on Chicago’s West Side, many of whom are managing chronic conditions at home during the pandemic. These resources will help members of the community improve their blood pressure control and live longer, healthier lives.” 

West Side United Executive Director Ayesha Jaco said that the donation will go a long way toward reducing the life expectancy gap. 

“One of our goals for community-based hypertension interventions is to equip residents with resources and tools that allow them to successfully manage their care beyond the walls of hospitals and health clinics,” she stated. “Our collaboration with the AMA and AHA expedites our ability to reach this goal.” 

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Austin Weekly News since 2015. His work has also appeared...