Erie Family Health Centers held a grand opening Wednesday for its expanded center in Evanston that doubles its size and capacity to serve patients.

Erie officials say they’ve seen a more than 800 percent increase in patients served since initially opening in 2012.

The 8,500 square foot expansion doubles the health center’s footprint and adds 17 new exam rooms, bringing the total to 34 exam rooms and five dental suites, as well as providing additional space that will be dedicated to behavioral health, health data analysis, community events or meetings and medical professional training.

With this addition, the health center will be able to serve 14,000 patients at capacity and 4,000 additional patients over the next two to three years. It now serves about 6,800 patients annually and provides a total of 26,000 patient visits.

Erie serves a primarily low-income population, with 76 percent of its patients insured by Medicaid and 15 percent uninsured.

“The story of Erie Evanston/Skokie Health Center is truly the realization of a community-driven vision, sustained by deep partnerships and a long-term commitment to meeting community needs,” said Dr. Lee Francis, Erie’s president and CEO. “This expansion grants the residents of Evanston, Skokie and the surrounding areas much needed additional access to high-quality, affordable primary health care.”

Erie Evanston/Skokie’s expansion was made possible by $1.7 million in capital funding from two private donors: the Finnegan Family Foundation and NorthShore University HealthSystem.

Both have been significant partners since Erie Evanston/Skokie Health Center originally began services seven years ago at a temporary location on the ground level of Evanston’s Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center.

“The Finnegan Family Foundation believes in supporting strong communities, and we also believe in scaling what works,” said Paul Finnegan. “We’ve seen the success of Erie Evanston/Skokie, and it is a pleasure and honor for our family to be part of the health center’s mission and growth.”

With the health center’s growth, comes the opportunity for Erie to expand its medical staff and graduate medical training programs. Erie is partnering with NorthShore University HealthSystem to bring the University of Chicago (NorthShore) Family Medicine Residency Program to Erie Evanston/Skokie Health Center in July.

Erie Evanston/Skokie will soon be home to 18 family medicine residents. With the addition of this program, Erie will be supporting four family medicine residency programs and one internal medicine residency across its network of 13 locations, making it a leader in developing the next generation of community healthcare providers.

“NorthShore University HealthSystem and Erie Family Health have a shared and long-term commitment to increase access to medical care for the underserved, and we’re proud to extend this vital community partnership,” said Sean O’Grady, chief clinical operations officer at NorthShore. “We’re happy to provide support for the expanded clinic and for the graduate medical education that will help staff the clinic. It’s a collaboration that has and will continue to provide great benefit to the community.”

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