Dr. Toyin Ayedemi had a vision that Bishop Anderson House would provide pastoral care to patients living with HIV, AIDS and other infectious diseases. A physician and professor at Stroger Hospital, she has been deeply involved with the Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center, and this spring she initiated our new venture at Project Connect. Since it opened its doors in 1998, the Center has remained one of the largest HIV/AIDS clinics in the United States.

BAH Chaplain Cherryl Holt provides pastoral care one day per week not only to inpatients, but also staff of Project Connect.  Chaplain Cherryl will facilitate a support group for staff at BAH offices, and the Friends of the House are planning a Valentines’ party for staff and clients next February.

This venture at Cook County is a return to pastoral care pioneered by Michael Leppen thirty years ago when he and Betsey Davis expanded Operation Bear Hug to include hospitalized patients with AIDS.

Project CONNECT, a transitional care coordination program, began offering services in 2012 to help patients with HIV/AIDS admitted at Stroger Hospital of Cook County (SHCC) successfully access outpatient care services at the Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center, The CORE Center.  Over the last four years, 550 patients have been linked to care at the CORE Center. The CORE Center was established as a partnership between the Cook County Health and Hospitals System and Rush University Medical Center.

Project CONNECT has increased the percentage of patients, who adhere to follow-up appointments at the CORE Center, by 27% indicating successful retention in care rates and improved clinical outcomes. Project staff immediately begins working with hospitalized patients to build rapport, address barriers to care and provide emotional support. Bishop Anderson House (BAH) is now partnering with Project CONNECT to provide spiritual support which is a new a service available to these patients. The goal is to incorporate BAH into the preexisting program model to meet the needs of participants, who are often going through a life altering experience.

Project CONNECT is funded by Cook County Health & Hospitals System, The Chicago Community Trust, Polk Bros Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies and the Dr. Scholl Foundation.