Federal grant to fund new Evanston health center

Tribune reporter

A $650,000 grant will pave the way for a new health center in Evanston that will target low-income patients, officials said today.

TheU.S. Department of Health and Human Servicesgrant will allow the city to create a “federally qualified health center” through its partnership with Erie Family Health Center, which Evanston partnered with unsuccessfully last year to apply for funding.

A federally qualified health center is a subsidized community health facility that focuses on preventative care. Erie operates 11 similar centers in Chicago, and serves approximately 37,500 patients a year.

Evanston expects a local health center could deliver care to more than 5,000 patients who live in households earning under 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

“It’s really to fill the unmet need for those who are uninsured and underinsured,” said  Evanston Health Department Director Evonda Thomas.

That need increased in 2007, when the city health department eliminated all direct medical services except pediatric dentistry, she said.

“A federally qualified health center will be the catalyst for improving the health and wellness of Evanston residents,” said Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, in a press release.

A location for the new facility has not been finalized, said Iliana Mora, spokeswoman for Erie Family Health Center.

Initial operations are expected to begin this fall, and the organization expects the Evanston center to be completed by early 2013, Mora said.

The Evanston location will provide primary care through family practitioners, pediatricians and OB-GYN doctors, as well as oral health services, behavioral health, health education and case management, Mora said.

If Erie meets its grant goals after two years, it will only have to reapply for the $650,000 annual award every five years, Mora said. Grant money accounts for about 18

percent of Erie Family Health Center’s budget for its current 11 sites, and the organization also relies on philanthropic gifts, she said.

The Evanston Erie center was one of 11 Illinois grant recipients this year.

In a release, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill. said the center will be a welcome addition.

“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. This new health center would help fill that gap,” Durbin said.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., also praised the health center.

“This decision is a great first step to address the large and increasing need for healthcare services in my district,” Schakowsky said, in the release.“I am confident that the creation of a high quality community health center with the capacity to serve over 5,000 patients in the Greater Evanston Area will produce very meaningful results and will continue to enhance the healthcare ‘safety net’ in my district.”

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad