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Rogers Park to receive new Federally Qualified Health Center
Heartland International Health Center, an affiliate of Heartland Alliance to be new community health provider.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Special to suffredin.org

Neighbors for a Healthy Rogers Park and Heartland International Health Center (HIHC), an affiliate of Heartland Alliance for Human Rights and Human Needs, are excited to announce that HIHC has received funding to open a Federally Qualified Health Center in East Rogers Park.

Jim Ginderske, a Director with the Neighbors group credits the tenacity of a broad coalition of community partners and HIHC for the funding of the new facility, which will begin seeing patients in February, 2008.

"This grant is the culmination of almost two years of challenging work that brought out the very best of what Rogers Park has to offer. The result will be a showcase facility introduced at a time when other community health resources have been reduced or eliminated. As a Federal and State designated "Medically Underserved" community and a Physician Shortage Area Rogers Park is in desperate need of this clinic."

The HIHC facility will accept most insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid and offer non-insured patients care on a sliding scale fee structure. Monica Dillon, RN, a public health nurse at Howard Area Community Center and a member of the Neighbors group explained:

"Establishing a "medical home" and developing a relationship with a community health care provider improves individual, family and community health outcomes. I encourage everyone who has not been able to afford an annual check up and health screenings to make an appointment at the new clinic. Then, when you become ill, you will be an established patient with a primary care provider, who can facilitate your treatment plan"

The new health center services will include prenatal and primary care, pediatrics, some psychiatry, and other services. The clinic will be fully renovated and located at Touhy and Bell Avenues in a currently vacant medical facility. Patients will have access to Heartland Alliance's language translation service, widely regarded as one of the best in the nation and a great fit in Rogers Park where residents speak eighty-eight languages.

The Kovler Center for Victims of Torture is also part of the Heartland Alliance system and will be available to patients in need of its services.

The new facility will have a budget of over 1.3 millions dollars and will be staffed by up to fourteen medical personnel. HIHC has committed to hiring locally for those positions where practical.

"This project is a truly community based effort that could only happen with the support of many partners. Our success proves that Rogers Park can take initiative on its own behalf when we work together for a common goal." Ginderske said.

"13th District Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin saw early on that our needs for increased County services were not going to be met in the near term, and enthusiastically committed to facilitating pivotal meetings with HIHC leadership and consistently supported this project. It is no exaggeration to say that this clinic wouldn't have been possible without his hard work and commitment."

For the grant application to be completed, a complex Community Needs Assessment was produced by the Neighbors and several partners. Loyola University's Center for Urban Research and Learning not only agreed to help fund the Assessment but worked to complete it in near record time to meet the September, 2006 deadline. Loyola's Marcella Neihoff School of Nursing, headed by Dr. Pamela Andreson also contributed to the Assessment project at that critical juncture.

"One key person who worked on the Needs Assessment was Monica Dillon at Howard Area Community Center." Ginderske said "Were it not for her technical expertise and relentless work it would have been impossible to obtain and synthesize a mountain of data into the coherent Assessment in such a short time."

When quickly locating a suitable facility became a priority, 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore stepped in along with Devcorp North to identify and help secure the Touhy Avenue location. The building was originally designed as a medical facility and is centrally located along the Touhy Avenue bus route.

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky's office also supported the project from its beginning with a letter of support and help tracking the application through the HRSA screening process.

"Many community residents, including members of the Neighbors group but also others who helped make the case for the clinic are also owed a tremendous debt of gratitude for their efforts. People like Francis Scudellari, Terry Feingold, and Kathy Sprattling, who attended nearly every meeting and kept the faith in spite of many setbacks. You need the professionals and politicians, but the hard work of such community residents is what makes a truly grassroots healthcare effort possible." Ginderske said.

Finally, Heartland International Health Center has shown an exemplary commitment to becoming a quality health care provider in Rogers Park. Meeting for almost a year with the Neighbors Group and Commissioner Suffredin, Heartland's leadership from the very beginning sent a strong message of concern for the Rogers Park community and for meeting the challenges of developing new resources its people.

In the words of Bechara Choucair, M.D., Managing Director and Medical Director of HIHC, "At HIHC and throughout Heartland Alliance, we believe in the basic human right to accessible, affordable health care. We're proud to be a partner on this project and we are committed to build a high quality facility in the next few months"



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