Tracey Smith, DNP
Executive Director of The Office of Community Initiatives and Complex Care
Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
As a doctoral nurse, Tracey Smith has led public health initiatives across Central and Southern Illinois for more than two decades. When news of the COVID crisis began to spread, Tracey activated response teams of community health workers, nurses, and behavioural health specialists across the lower part of the state. Attuned to the medical, social, and emotional needs of her patients, Tracey developed a model to uniquely address the physical, social, and emotional needs of people in the communities she serves.
Tracey: “First and foremost, we had to design a strategy to provide care for people who may be infected with COVID to keep people home as long as possible and keep our communities safe, but the impact of the pandemic affects more than people experiencing symptoms of the virus. People are out of work and running low on food. People are in their homes trying to navigate their chronic diseases, and not able to afford their medication. People are suffering with anxiety and mental health issues. Ultimately, I knew our strategy had to be bigger than treating those who were sick. We had to rethink our definition of vulnerable. Right now, a lot of us are vulnerable, even if we're not sick.”
The State of Illinois awarded The SIU School of Medicine millions of dollars to implement Tracey's model of interdisciplinary teams across Central and Southern Illinois. Active today, there are 62 workers in 66 counties across the lower part of the state providing care to an area with a population of over 2 million people.