Erie health opens at civic center

Erie President Dr. Lee Francis and Evanston Health Director Evonda Thomas and mayors Elizabeth Tisdahl and George Van Dusen joined Erie staff members for this morning's ribbon cutting.

The first community health center serving the near north suburbs opened today with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its temporary location in the Evanston Civic Center.

Erie Evanston/Skokie will offer care for thousands of Evanston and Skokie residents who previously lacked access to affordable care.
It will provide primary care services for children, teens, adults, and seniors, children's dentistry, and behavioral health services.
Prenatal care will be available starting in summer 2013. In addition, Erie offers access to an expanded network of locations providing services such as optometry and podiatry.

Officials at the ribbon cutting displayed a layout for a possible permanent location for the center at 1285 Hartrey Ave. in Evanston. Once a new, permanent location is at full capacity, Erie estimates the new center will provide care for more than 5,500 patients through more than 18,500 annual patient visits.

“For more than half a century, Erie has been in the communities where we are needed most. Right now, there is a growing need for primary care providers in the suburbs, so we are thrilled to be able to expand our health care services by branching out into Evanston and Skokie to meet increased patient demand,” said Dr. Lee Francis, President and CEO, Erie Family Health Center.

In 2007, after more than 100 years of operation, the Evanston Health Department eliminated all direct medical services except pediatric dentistry because of budget constraints.
The Skokie Health Department provides limited services, such as blood pressure screenings, and refers low-income patients to Chicago for care.
As a result, many area residents have been without access to needed primary health care services. Erie is partnering with the City of Evanston, Village of Skokie, NorthShore University HealthSystem, Saint Francis Hospital and other community partners to meet the health care needs of these communities.
I am delighted that many more Evanston area residents and their families will now have access to much-needed, affordable health care," said Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl. "The opening of this facility highlights the positive benefits of government working in tandem with such highly qualified health care organizations to create an accessible facility which offers a whole host of medical services all under one roof."
Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen welcomed the new center and thanked the City of Evanston "for its cooperation in establishing this clinic that will provide very important, much needed services to a good many residents from both Skokie and Evanston."
The new health center was made possible by an annual operating grant of $650,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of the Affordable Care Act.
In addition, NorthShore University HealthSystem contributed $1.2 million for the new, permanent health center, as well as $600,000 of annual operating support over three years. “Capital costs for the new health center are $2.7 million, and we are currently working to raise an additional $1.4 million to meet our goal,” said Francis.
"Erie Family Health has an impressive history of providing high-quality health care to the underserved and NorthShore is proud to be one of the partners in this important endeavor to bring that mission to Evanston and Skokie," said NorthShore University HealthSystem Chief Operating Officer J.P. Gallagher.
Jeffrey Murphy, executive vice president and CEO of Saint Francis Hospital, said he new center "will provide additional opportunities for residents to get medical care and improve the overall health of the community,"
Mayor Tisdahl praise Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky "for their steadfast commitment to health care in bringing this center to Evanston."
Founded on Erie Street in Chicago in 1957, Erie Family Health Center is a community health center that serves nearly 40,000 people throughout the city and surrounding suburbs at 13 centers, delivering primary medical and dental care.
Top: Erie President Dr. Lee Francis and Evanston Health Director Evonda Thomas and mayors Elizabeth Tisdahl and George Van Dusen joined Erie staff members for this morning's ribbon cutting.