Telligen and the Flu Fighters! won a national award for improving flu immunization rates among elderly Chicagoans who reside in public housing or in city neighborhoods with healthcare shortages. The 2016 Immunization Neighborhood Award was presented at the National Adult and Influenza Immunization Summit (NAIIS) on May 11 in Atlanta, Georgia.

As part of its work with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Quality Improvement Organization Program (QIO), Telligen is charged to reduce avoidable hospitalizations and deaths among Medicare beneficiaries in Illinois. Since October 2015, 237 influenza-associated intensive care unit hospitalizations have been reported in Chicago. According to the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), 58 percent of these admissions occurred among patients aged 50 or older. The Telligen team found that city neighborhoods with the lowest immunization rates also harbored some of the highest rates of hospital admissions or readmissions in Chicago for flu or pneumonia-associated conditions. Furthermore, incidence of flu or pneumonia-associated conditions was highest in areas where senior citizens resided in public housing and in neighborhoods with a shortage of healthcare professionals, according to an analysis done in collaboration with the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) and CDPH.

Telligen partnered with CHA to create the Flu Fighters! and worked with Walgreens and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois to bring flu and pneumonia immunizations to the doorsteps of Chicago seniors residing in public housing in the fall and winter of 2015. “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois donated the use of their mobile healthcare van, which was critical to the success of this initiative,” said Pat Merryweather, Telligen executive director. Walgreens provided the pharmacists and immunizations, which allowed for Telligen to coordinate and concentrate on outreach. As Flu Fighters! partners, CDPH and EverThrive concentrated their efforts on public housing residents living in family developments and mixed-income communities while TCA Health focused on the  Altgeld Gardens public housing development on Chicago’s far south side.

“The Chicago Housing Authority is proud to have been a participant in the Flu Fighters! flu prevention campaign that resulted in more than 1,150 CHA seniors receiving vaccinations and an equal number receiving education about the importance of flu prevention,” said Eugene Jones, Jr., Chief Executive Officer of CHA. “CHA is honored by the Immunization Neighborhood Award from NAIIS and we congratulate all of our fellow partners – CDPH, EverThrive, Telligen, CMS, Walgreens, Blue Cross Blue Shield and TCA Health– on their vital role in this initiative.  The value in health preserved and the potential hospitalizations averted was truly priceless.”