Daniel Ivankovich is better known in the blues community as “Chicago Slim,” both as the leader of the Chicago Blues All-Stars, and often playing guitar around town. But Ivankovich is also a trauma/spine surgeon, who heads OnePatient – Global Health Initiative, a nonprofit that specializes in musculoskeletal health and wellness and serves residents of underserved communities throughout Chicago.
When COVID hit in 2020, Ivankovich had to put his musical career on hold because many of his colleagues went MIA – because they didn’t want to step up. But when his patients from underserved communities had nobody else but him, he went to work. Because of the pandemic fallout, musicians had been disproportionately impacted.
It’s been really tough because Chicago was hit hard and venues locked down for going on two years. I made a pivot, and worked on building the Chicago Blues Society, and was very lucky that Facebook noticed our work and gave a grant to further build this blues community.Dr. Daniel Ivankovich
Chicago Blues Society was able to evolve its game significantly with the help of Meta/Facebook and their Accelerator Grant Program. Working in conjunction, OnePatient and Chicago Blues Society were able to focus toward ongoing health needs of musicians.
COVID was an unfortunate opportunity to highlight how the same communities who suffer for worse health and shorter lifespans (black and brown) due to inadequate access to healthcare resources were also the communities primarily affected by the pandemic.
Chicago Blues Society pivoted on their process during COVID and ramped up their telehealth capabilities. Over 200 local musicians of all genres reached out because they weren’t able to work due to venues being closed. No work meant no revenue and hard choices between rent and food versus insurance coverage. The doctors remained accessible to them for concerns regarding their health.
Dr. Karla Ivankovich and Dr. Daniel Ivankovich were the team leaders who anchored medical and behavioral health needs for patients. Looking forward, Musician Heal Thyself is an evolving program that looks to leverage experiences from the pandemic to create active workshops for musicians that focus on preventative health and address multiple concerns (behavioral, obesity, arthritis, substance abuse) and really emphasize self-motivated health and wellness behaviors.
The Chicago Blues Society also strives to improve the health and wellness for musicians of all genres, provide mentorship for at-risk youth from underserved inner-city communities and to also help musicians who have no insurance access vital health resources.
Ivankovich has also recently launched a revamped Chicago Slim website, which showcases his musical career (including info and song samples of the Chicago Blues All-Stars release, Red, Hot & Blue) and also, a link to the Musician Heal Thyself site, whose mission is to provide outreach, education and empowerment to musicians of all genres who strive to improve their quality of life via promotion of healthy lifestyles.
Daniel “Chicago Slim” Ivankovich is one of the few who is helping to keep blues music alive, while also serving the community.