Exploring Community Health in Southwest Chicago

When leaders of Saint Anthony Hospital (SAH) in southwest Chicago began exploring the potential to build a replacement hospital on a new site, they wanted assurance that the project would serve community needs and successfully engage with its key target markets in a financially viable way for the long term. Rather than simply assuming that a new facility will attract and positively impact the 400,000 residents in nearby neighborhoods, SAH leadership wanted the project to be deeply connected with community groups and needs from its inception. So they sought to better understand stakeholders’ perceptions, cultures and needs as related to healthcare and perceived community health overall.

Our researchers joined forces with the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Architecture and Saint Anthony Hospital to investigate differences between neighborhood ethnic groups’ healthcare choices and service needs. Focusing on four neighborhoods surrounding the hospital, the team collected quantitative and qualitative resident data on healthcare use and choice, and the likelihood of engaging in new health-promoting services.

This research follows the framework of evidence-based design, which has increasingly elucidated the important role of the architectural environment on organizational and health outcomes. However, it’s one of the first attempts to bring evidence-based design to the community scale, fully integrating a healthcare institution into the community context.

Read more about what the research uncovered — and how the findings will help transform what began as an idea to build a replacement hospital into a full-scale, mixed-use community campus, with the hospital serving as an anchor to the development.