Our Peers-Empowerment and Navigational Support (OP-ENS)

The Our Peers-Empowerment and Navigational Support for People with Disabilities project, or OP-ENS, is a research study that will answer the question, “Do peer health navigators help people with disabilities get better healthcare?

Medicaid beneficiaries with physical disabilities experience several barriers to healthcare that put them at a high risk for health disparities. 

Peer heath navigator (PHN) programs have been successfully used with people with chronic conditions. PHNs are persons from the local community who share the same demographic as those people that they serve. PHNs empower individuals to take control of their healthcare by providing individualized supports and structured problem solving skill building to help overcome healthcare barriers.

Therefore, the purpose of this study is to implement and evaluate a PHN intervention, OP-ENS, a  program tailored to meet the primary healthcare needs of Medicaid beneficiaries with physical disabilities.   

We are actively seeking volunteers for OP-ENS. Please see our flyer for more information.

To learn more about this study, including to see if you are eligible to participate, please contact Susan Magasi at UIC:

  • Phone: (312) 996-4603
  • Email: smagas1@uic.edu
OP-ENS research study flyer

Project Partners

The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), and Access Living are partnering together for the OP-ENS study.

Funding

Support for this project is paid for by a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (9ORT5027).

Shirley Ryan AbilityLab logo
Access Living logo
Program for Healthcare Justice for People with Disabilities logo
National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research logo
OP-ENS Peer Health Navigators
Bob Green

Bob Green

Peer Health Navigator

Very often unexpected life traumas and challenges provide the best opportunities for self-reflection; mindset change; empathy for people and an opportunity to share the experiences and solutions to problems that one encounters in life, such has been my experience working as a Peer Health Navigator.
Hobbies: playing music; collecting art; reading; working out; eating at restaurants.
Education: Notre Dame High School; Loyola University (Chemistry); University of Chicago (Biochemistry and medicine)
Ryan McGraw

Ryan McGraw

Peer Health Navigator

I am a person with cerebral palsy who has 11 years of experience working in the disability advocacy field. As a Peer Health Navigator, my goal is to listen to the needs of my peers. From there we can form the best course of action to deal with the issues you may face. I believe that empowerment and education is the key to knowing your rights and being able to get what you need.
Ron Booze

Ron Booze

Peer Health Navigator

I am a 55 year old African American Male recovering from a traumatic
spinal cord and neck injury from an automobile accident in 2009. I’ve had to go through multiple surgeries related to this accident. I currently use a cane to walk and am in therapy as well. I recognize and respect the barriers and difficulties other members of the disability community have to navigate through to receive, maintain, and achieve the assistance and services that are
much needed. My mission as a PHN is to educate and empower and educate on the resources available to access healthcare.
Evelyn Rodriguez

Evelyn Rodriguez

Peer Health Navigator

Evelyn is a peer health navigator who has been actively involved with OP-ENS since the beginning of the project.
Ryann Brown

Ryann Brown

Peer Health Navigator

My name is Ryann Brown, I am a Peer Health Navigator at the University of Illinois at Chicago, as well as an advocate for persons with disabilities. I was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury in March of 2006. Since then, I’ve become a catalyst for change when it comes to dealing with concerns within the disability community. Some of my strengths include, but are not limited to dealing with accessibility issues, Medicaid Illinois managed care companies, and gun violence survivors. I look forward to working with you on any concerns you have or may encounter in the very near future.
Susan Aarup

Susan Aarup

Peer Health Navigator

I have over forty years of lived experience surrounding disability and different types of coping mechanisms. I believe we can learn from each other. Everyone is a valuable part of society. As a Peer Health Navigator, my goal is to help people reach their potential through their own knowledge and available resources.
Kimberly Lee

Kimberly Lee

Peer Health Navigator

Kimberly Lee is a Peer Health Navigator for the OPENS program. She has been involved in the study for about a year and a half. She has worked on finding community gardens and food pantry resources. She is a Chicago native who was born and raised on the south side.
OP-ENS team discussing the project
Peer health navigators posing
Additional OP-ENS Information

Joel Margolis interviews OP-ENS PI Dr. Susan Magasi and peer health navigators Ron Booze and Ryann Brown about the OP-ENS program. This program was produced by Adapt of Chicago Productions, a CAN TV Community Partner.