UIC receives $3.1 million to provide reproductive health care to underserved teens

The College of Nursing at the University of Illinois Chicago has secured a $3.1 million grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, to run a mobile health unit for underserved teens in Illinois. 

The mobile health unit will operate for four years in disadvantaged rural and urban areas of the state, providing services to improve teen health and well-being, including reproductive health services such as well visits, contraceptive management and screening for sexually transmitted diseases. The unit will also provide point-of-care tests for pregnancy and reproductive health. 

Kelly Rosenberger, UIC associate professor of nursing and director of the university’s Rockford Regional Nursing Program, will serve as principal investigator for ENRICH, which stands for Enhancing Nursing Education and Retention by Initiation of Care Delivered by Mobile Health Units. Rosenberger was inspired to launch the program after seeing the critical need among vulnerable high school students in rural southern Illinois for access to reproductive health services and STI prevention and treatment.  

“The ENRICH MHU will be a conduit to expand health care services beyond UIC’s traditional urban and metropolitan service areas,” Rosenberger said.  

In addition to providing needed services to teens, the mobile unit program will have the dual purpose of providing clinical training to Doctor of Nursing Practice students, as well as other nursing students at UIC’s network of urban and rural campuses.

“Nursing students will benefit from valuable hands-on experiences that will greatly improve access and quality of care for underserved rural high school teens,” Rosenberger said.  

The innovative program will develop and evaluate nurse-led mobile health services, a mobile app and a nursing education program that will provide culturally aligned care for rural and underserved populations. It will revise the current UIC rural nursing curriculum by addressing and managing the social determinants of health in underserved areas, with the goal of improving health equity for vulnerable patients.  

Nurse practitioners training in the ENRICH mobile health program will include family nurse practitioners, pediatric primary care nurse practitioners, women’s health nurse practitioners and nurse midwives.