The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded Erie Family Health Center a grant to open a new health center in Evanston.

This grant will provide $650,000 of annual support toward the operation of the center. It is one of 219 new grants nationwide and one of 11 in the State of Illinois.

“This is a great day for the City of Evanston. A Federally Qualified Health Center will be the catalyst for improving the health and wellness of Evanston residents,” Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said.

The mayor thanked Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky “for their steadfast leadership” in winning support for the project.

She said the center “will make a real impact in people’s lives and leverage the services already provided by Evanston’s Health Department.”

In 2007, after more than100 years of operation, the Evanston Health Department eliminated all direct medical services except pediatric dentistry, as a result of budget constraints

The mayor says that left many area residents without access to primary health care services. To help fill that need, the city partnered with Erie, which operates community health centers in Chicago, to develop a plan for the health center.

Erie has served Chicago residents “for more than 50 years, and this grant allows us to partner with the City of Evanston to expand our reach,” said Dr. Lee Francis, President and CEO, Erie Family Health Center. “There is a need for affordable health care in Evanston and Skokie and the surrounding communities, and we look forward to the opportunity to serve patients and provide them with high-quality care.”

Erie now serves about 37,500 patients a year — many from low-income families — at 11 health centers, including three large primary care centers, a teen health center, five school-based health centers and two oral health centers.

Erie will expand its comprehensive service delivery model to Evanston and the surrounding suburbs, providing primary medical services, oral health services, behavioral health, and enabling services all under one roof.

The Evanston Erie site will serve as a medical home for the target population, allowing patients to establish an ongoing relationship with their provider of choice, receive a variety of health care services and receive referrals for services not offered on site.

“Currently only 12 percent of low-income people in the Evanston area receive care in Chicago community health centers, leaving the majority of residents without access to affordable care,” Sen. Durbin said. “This new health center would help fill that gap.”

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky said a quarter of African Americans and Latinos in the Evanston and Skokie area live below the poverty line.

She said the new center would be able to serve over 5,000 patients in Evanston and nearby communities and would “enhance the healthcare ‘safety net.’”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. And many kudos to Evonda

    And many kudos to Evanston Health Director Evonda Thomas for her efforts in securing this opportunity for Evanston.

  2. More Theft of the taxpayers money is on the way!

    The Mayor is no hero – $650,000 will not open up a clinic, so where is the rest of the money coming from out of Evanston taxpayers pockets.  Their previous plan is to use the basement in the Civic Center, another big screw up like moving ECTV to the service building. ECTV move to the service building violates the ADA, the civil rights of disable citizens since there is not access to the top floor of the building were they are placing the public TV station.

    Wally will quietly steal money out of other funds to open this clinic Wally and his crack staff will no doubt create a mess if they use the basement of the Civic Center for the cliinic. When I went down there there was standing water on the floor in one room and the place smelled of mold. I was told employees who worked for the health department in the basement were having health issues.  So our taxes will go up for them to create another screwed up project.   

    Last year our taxes went up 8% so what the plan for this year?

    .Maybe Wally will add a little more to the water bills?

    The basement of the Civic Center is a dump,with numberous code  and ADA violations,  to create a correct clinic in the basement would cost over 2 million dollars, maybe the Mayor can provide a donation or have a cookie sale?

    1. Erie family health center funding

      But where does it say that this clinic will be getting money from the city of evanston?  I guess I missed that in the article.  Erie Family health center web site has a list of its funders on its web site:, in case you're interested. Looks like it's a bunch of businesses.

      1. Health clinic no different from how the city got Trader Joes

        I recall the Mayor and her council members friends were claiming a great victory they got Trader Joes, they did not tell anyone at the time they were giving away 2 million dollars of our money to buy a parking lot.

        I was told before off the record, when I asked how they planned to fund this, that they would find the money. The Mayor could care less she will raise taxes, its all a political game to her, remember spending $400,000 is a 1% property tax increase.

        Interesting enough since this is a federal fund clinic we will be payig for non-residents to use it.

        Last year they did not have the honestly to even tell the public the correct tax increase, which they tried to hide, why would the Mayor tell you the truth now?


  3. How much will Evanston pay for the new healthcare center?

    Where is the new healthcare center going to be located?

    How much money, if any, will the city pay to purchase and rehab or build the new Erie health center?

    And the big question – How much money  will the city allocate each year to operate the new health center?

    The increase in money allocated for Federally Qualified Health Centers all stems from Obamacare. What happens if the Supreme Court strikes down all or part of Obamacare or if Republican Romney wins and dismantles the bureaucratic behometh? WIll Evanston be stuck with the tab?

    It's nice to get federal money but many times there are strings attached. What are those strings?

    In May 2011, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and City Manager Wally B. flew to Washington DC on our dime and conducted a series of meetings with Democrats Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Sen. Dick Durbin and Dr. Lee Francis, CEO of Erie Family Healthcare, regarding Evanston's application to create a Federally Qualified Health Center in partnership with Erie Family Healthcare. It was rumored that Wally B. later wanted to close the Chandler Rec Center and possibly use it for the healthcare center. Area residents were infuriated, organized and killed any idea of closing the Chandler Rec Center.

    I wonder if the city is thinking about using the Hadley-Clarke mansion or the 1817 Church Building as the new Erie Healthcare Center?

    I just want to know when as an overtaxed Evanstonian working in the private sector who is tired of property taxes consistently rising will property taxes decline in proportion to property values?

    Who's looking out for me?

  4. Duplicitous duplication

    We already have two excellent hospitals in Evanston.  Why are we duplicating services by creating a separate clinic?  Wouldn't $650,000 go a lot farther for the patients if it were given to the two already operational hospitals, specifically for the treatment of the indigent?  The hospitals would be required to treat the poor and would withdraw payment from the fund to do just that.  Instead, a lot of money will be wasted setting up separate facilities, buying equipment and medicines, hiring staff, providing Erie with a reasonable profit…rather than going to the healthcare of those who really need it.

    1. Hospitals are not doctors

      "Instead, a lot of money will be wasted setting up separate facilities, buying equipment and medicines, hiring staff, providing Erie with a reasonable profit…rather than going to the healthcare of those who really need it."

      First, Erie is a nonprofit….see their site:  "Erie Family Health Center is a registered 501(c)(3) organization and all donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law."

      Second,  Tom's comments demonstrate that he doesn't know the difference between a hospital and a medical practice. 

        Hospitals, Tom, are buildings that have operating rooms, beds, and emergency rooms in them.  

      Doctors often locate their offices near hospitals…often this is because the doctors also practice at those hospitals, or to make things convenient for patients…but there are other reasons too… In Evanston, for example, an office checkup by a  NorthShore Medical Group physician  could be at a doctor's office on the south side of Central Street….if  you need surgery , you will be sent across the street to the hospital…. the two entities are different.  Evanston hospital could, and maybe does, allow physicians who are not part of NorthShore Medical Group to do surgeries in its hospitals.  The physician submits a bill for his or her services…the hospital submits a bill for its facilities.

      So if poor people just show up at  one of our two hospitals instead of Erie…where would they go?  To the ER?  That's what we don't want.  They would have to find a doctor who is willing to see them.  That is what Erie provides. 

       Erie care provides primary care…the kind of stuff usually done in a doctor's office.  This kind of stuff should not be done in a hospital emergency saves money to do it in a clinic.  ( Another example of how 'Obamacare' saves money.)

      1. Flak

        Thanks, "Anonymous", for setting me straight on the nonprofit status of Erie.  I wasn't aware they were a cost-free benevolent society.  So you're saying they won't be hiring janitors, receptionists, intake nurses, bookkeepers, physicians' assistants, phlebotomists and physicians for this new center?  Everyone will be volunteering their time at no cost?  Wonderful!  Now, if you're going to volunteer to be a part-time janitor there, I commend you, but I'd first brush up on the regs for handling blood-borne pathogens, if I were you.

        It's my impression, these paid employees, however deserving they are, will siphon a considerable amount of the grant money away from the direct health care of the indigent patients.  These folks are all in place at our two hospitals, so little or no extra hiring would be necessary if the money were to go to the already standing institutions. 

        And no, I don't know the difference between a doctor's practice and a hospital.  My primary care is at Family Medicine at the University of Illinois, in Chicago's west side Medical District and I'd be hard pressed to tell where the line is drawn between the "hospital" functions of the building and the "clinic" functions.  I've had surgery done one floor below the Family Medicine suite. 

        Prior to that, when I lived in Chicago's Lakeview area, my doctors were all located within Illinois Masonic Hospital.  There may have been some imaginary legal line between the doctors' offices and the operating rooms, but all I know is: I walked in through the front door of that hospital for whatever my business was.

        My elderly Mom's doctors are all inside of Resurrection Hospital in Chicago's Norwood Park neighborhood.  There again, we walk in the front door of the hospital and go to various floors for her internist, neurologist, cardiologist and opthamologist.  I have never seen a division between "hospital" and "doctor's office" there either.  We eat lunch in the same cafeteria as hospital staff and visiting families to the hospital, so I don't believe there is any physical separation of the functions in that building.

        When I was a kid, in the 1950's, my doctor was in a storefront office, away from a medical center.  But more often than not, rather than me going to see him, he'd grab his black leather bag and walk the two blocks over to our house.  After my checkup, my Mom would serve him coffee and pie in the living room, as they discussed my care.  As far as I know, these types of practice have disappeared completely.

        I really hope Erie is compensating you well, "Anonymous", for providing them with strategic public relations on this discussion board.



        1. You still don’t get it,

          You still don't get it, Tom.

            The point of FQHC's is to get patients OUT of hospital emergency rooms.  Treating patients in the ER is more expensive than in FQHC's or regular clinic visits.

            And if you don't know the difference between a hospital and a medical practice, here is something to try, Tom:

                 Go to the  website for St. Francis Hospital

                 See at left, where it says "Find a Doctor"?  Follow that link.

                 This takes you to 'Resurrection Health Care's Physician Referral database'.  See, they are referring you to physicians' offices.   These physicians may have relationships with the  Resurrection or hospital privileges at Resurrection Hospitals, but (unless Resurrection is different than most other non-profit hospitals) they are NOT employees of St. Francis/Resurrection.   If you make an appointment with one of these physicians, it would be at the physician's office, not in the hospital emergency room , operating room, or intensive care unit.    The physicians office might be located near St. Francis Hospital, or on upper floors of the hosptial , maybe an adjacent building with a connecting walkway like on Central Street ( I have never been to St. Francis, so I'm not familiar with the exact setup there)  so to you the experience of visiting a doctor and going to the hospital may appear seamless (wait until the bill comes)….but hospitals and doctors are not the same.

          FQHC's are meant to keep people who don't have primary care physicians out of hospital emergency rooms. 

          You could ask:   Why don't these patients just make appointments with the physicians in the Resurrection Database, or the NorthShore Medical Group, or other private offices?    Because they often don't have insurance, and can't afford those doctors, and these doctors won't take Medicaid patients.  Doctors at FQHC's fill this need.

          1. problem with a locallly financed health clinic

              Will only Evanston residents be allowed to use the Erie services in our town?    Will the clinic turn away  Chicagoans or people from other suburbs?

             If not, then we Evanston residents should not be required to foot the bill, and I'm sure there will be a cost above and beyond this small grant. INstead, the state or national level should provide the entire cost of these services.

            Our Evanston dental clinic is a perfect example of this.   When I asked the clinic director how many residents serviced actually lived in Evanston, she said she didn't know, as they don't ask.  My guess is that our local taxes are paying for many Chicagoans to get their teeth cleaned.

            The post above about only those living off the dole or on welfare will be able to live in Evanston is only partially true-  The  rich who no longer care about money or those who can ask for more money from daddy's trust fund might also be able to afford living in Evanston.  The middle class will not be able to.

            Evanston has to draw a line on the role of city government.    If this health clinic was out to only serve those living within our boundaries, I might even be willing to pay more in taxes for it.  However, I doubt this will be the case.  I personally do not believe that Evanston property taxes should be required to pay for this, especially considering we can't even cover the health costs and pensions of our service providers in town.

            As for whether obama care will save money- Of course it will not!   It is essentially a tax on those who would not otherwise choose to get health insurance.   Obama should call this what it is- a tax-  Instead of forcing people to buy services from private providers(or face tax penalties roughly equivalent to the private provider costs), which is unconstitutional, congress should straight out make it a tax if they want to push through more nationalized health care.  


          2. Erie Health Clinic

            In the Council meeting the following comments were made:

            "Evonda Thomans, health director says the grant is expected to be ongoing annual support for the health center at a level of $650,000.

            Expect to see 5,000 dental and 24,000 medical visits by the end of year one.

            Location still unknown. Will be eight medical providers and two dental providers….

            Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, says center will serve Skokie and other surrounding communities as well as Evanston."

            Who will provide or pay for the providers?

            Will they be volunteers?

            $650,000 would pay perhaps three of those.

            What about the building and ongoing costs?

            This sounds mushy, has anyone seen a real budget, say over 5 to 10 years?

          3. Erie

            Vito asks:

            "Who will provide or pay for the providers?

            Will they be volunteers?"

            Vito, instead of getting all upset about the prospect of lower-income people having access to medical care, you should enquire at Erie's website to see sources of funding and how Erie works.

            In addition to Federal FQHC grants, and modest sliding scale fees for services, Erie has lots of private donors:


                Bank of America
                Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois
                Gilead Sciences, Inc.
                Levenfeld Pearlstein
                People’s Gas
                Takeda Pharmaceuticals

            Foundations and Organizations 

            (long list…check the site)

            Of course, money will always be tight, since the demand for services far exceeds Erie's capabilities.

            So to all the grumpy Evanston Now readers who are concerned  about the long term financial viability of Erie,  you can  go to this page and make a donation:

            "More than 85 percent of our patients live below the poverty level, and almost 35 percent are uninsured. Erie charges a flat fee of $30 per visit for uninsured patients. But we collect only about $20 per visit — and our average cost per visit is $198. To make up the difference, we rely on the generous support of individuals, foundations and corporations as well as public funding. Help us bridge the gap!"

          4. Erie funding

            Thanks for the info.

            Why wasn't this made available with the City release? Why is the onus to find out financial data always put on the citizen?

            "But we collect only about $20 per visit — and our average cost per visit is $198."


            The grant is $650,000


            Since we have all this staff, why don't they provide a business plan for 5 to 10 years?

            I forgot, this is Evanston, mere mere details…


          5. IF Erie gets all it’s money from private sources, great-

            If all of Erie's money comes from the sources you've llisted-  corporate money, personal donations, and national government grants- great- I don't think anyone here on this thread is against a health care clinic. 

            WE are against the city of Evanston paying for it, through property taxes- especially if it's serving low income residents from all the surrounding areas too.  

             Perhaps you can afford more property taxes, and that's great.  But not everyone in town can afford more.

              What about all the lower income home owners in this town? Even renters are effected by raising property taxes, as property owners need to reccop taxes too.   IN effect, you will be forcing out exactly the same people you are trying to help. 



          6. Corp. support for how long ?

            How long will Bank of America beable to support it—they have enough financial problems of their own and stockholders will not put up with these kinds of things.  Right now natural gas rates are low and so Peoples Gas can probably give away money but as I recall they have rasied charges for years and will get pressure from stockholders.

            Once agaig government 'Grants' are invoked as money from heaven.  Where do people think this money comes from ?  TAXES !  They take from us and then expect us to worship them for giving a little back.  Wake-up it comes from us as taxpayers—and maybe people alot poorer than those in Evanston.

            I'm sure the Council thinks this will buy them votes—taxxes?, needs? cost effective ways ?  well they don't consider details like that important.

          7. Erie’s detractors

            'How long will Bank of America beable to support it—they have enough financial problems of their own and stockholders will not put up with these kinds of things.'

            If Erie runs out of corporate support , private donors, and Federal grants…then they will have to shut down.  The same is true , by the way, for St. Francis Hospital and Northwestern University.

            I  don't understand why so many people here are getting so upset about Erie opening up in Evanston.  It really looks like you are just opposed to the idea of lower-income or uninsured people having access to health care.

          8. Election Time

            Remember, we have the fine work of Jan and Dick (Durbin) to thank for this.

            At the earliest election, let's vote these two goofballs out of office. Anybody else would be an improvement, including No Candidate.

      2. Obamacare

        Obamacare hasn't saved anybody any money. The GBO has already estimated that obamacare will cost the federal goverment 1 trillion dollars more that the government estimated cost at time of passage. This number does not include the cost to state and local governments.

        What happens when obamacare is declared unconstitutional, as expected. Will the state or city pick up the cost. I doubt if the taxpayers will stand for that. What will Obama, the constitional lawyer who has repeatedly proven he didn't pay attention in class, do? He will mumble and studder if he doesn't have a teleprompter in front of him.

  5. Health center

    Do you have more details on this? I believe this city will go over the edge if the taxpayers of Evanston are required to spend more than $ 1.00 on another city boondoggle.

    It appears that the current city government is trying to mimic the current administration in Washington. They have no problem spending other people’s money. 

  6. Evanston residents:

    Keep going, and eventually the only people who can afford to live in Evanston will be those on the dole, welfare, and foodstamps in our wonderful nanny state!! At least Jan won't have to participate. I know I won't be living here much longer, as we're moving to Kansas very soon, thank God!!!

    1. What’s the matter with Kansas?

      Well, curmudgeon, if you don't like "those on the dole, welfare, and foodstamps"…then perhaps you should find a better place than Kansas.

      Like most 'red' states, Kansas receives more money from the Federal government than it contributes.  There are lots of old people in Kansas, and of course wheat farmers are huge beneficiaries of Federal aid ( and let's not forget other agricultural policies, like limits on imports of sugar and grain, that prop up the price of grain or high fructose corn syrup) .

      If you want to be around productive people who aren't "on the dole", you should consider moving to a metropolitan, 'blue' area.  Manhattan, or Silicon Valley perhaps.  Or if taxes and living expenses are too high for you in those areas, maybe Austin, TX or the Research Triangle in NC.

      Of course, there still are some entrepreneurs and productive businessmen in rural Kansas.  Unfortunately, they are being harassed and put out of business by Obama and the Federal bureaucrats. See this article from the Topeka Capital-Journal:  Meth lab busts on rise in Kansas:


  7. I’m happy to see this grant awarded to Erie

    And applaud the city for working with Erie to locate a clinic here in Evanston to replace services regrettably cut due to budget constraints.

    How about locating it at Dodge and Dempster? Or the old Osco at Asbury?

    And we should be grateful that Erie is opting to locate in Evanston to provide services we as a city no longer can.

    I see employment opportunities for our citizens and options for care beyond emergency rooms.

    I know people who previously used the health services at the city for immunizations, etc. and have struggled to find affordable care. All of whom are upstanding citizens contributing a lot to this community.

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