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Heartland Health Center Celebrates Mothers and Children

Saturday, May 30, 2009
The Urban Coaster
by Kimberly Tester

Heartland International Health Center (HIHC) hosted a “Celebrate Mothers & Children” brunch on Saturday, May 16 at its Rogers Park facility.

Community leaders and HIHC patients gathered to discuss the challenges and triumphs of at-risk Chicago women and their children.

Featured co-speaker Angela Assad-Dayrell, HIHC Board Director and a patient at Heartland Health Center – Rogers Park, described her experience as a first-time mother who found herself with no health insurance after being laid off from her full-time job.

A friend recommended her to HIHC where she received affordable prenatal care and birth services. HIHC’s midwife supported her in approaching her pregnancy as an opportunity for empowerment rather than a reason for fear. “I wasn’t scared anymore because she really listened to my concerns, questions, and goals.”

Assad went on to say, “It is empowering for women to own their birth experience. When I came out of it, I felt equipped to take care of my child.” Because of her experience, she chose to serve on the Board of Directors.

“I am completely dedicated to giving back in whatever way that I can so I can help women have an experience like the one I had.” Adding to the warmth of Assad’s testimony, her daughter Lana entertained the crowd by making faces from her perch in her mother’s arms as she spoke.

HIHC, an affiliate of Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights, provides comprehensive primary, prenatal, women’s health, pediatric, mental health, and oral health care services regardless of the ability to pay.

Prenatal patients benefit from nutrition counseling, midwifery care, breastfeeding support, and prompt oral health care during pregnancy, and children establish a healthy foundation from birth with on-time immunizations, check-ups, and dental care.

HIHC also provides interpretation in over 35 languages and actively assists residents with enrollment in benefits programs. Nearly 14,000 individuals received care in 2008, including 2,000 in the Rogers Park facility, in almost 7,000 encounters.

Also speaking was Illinois State Senator Heather Steans (D-7th), who praised HIHC’s mission to provide high quality and affordable health care. “With over 2 million uninsured in Illinois, federally qualified health centers play an important role in meeting health needs.

Research shows that when people have a medical home and receive regular preventive care that costs are lower and, most importantly, patient outcomes improve.”

Both Senator Steans and HIHC Board of Directors President, Elizabeth Tarlov, commended Dr. Bechara Choucair, HIHC’s Executive Director and Medical Director, for his efforts to improve the livelihood of Chicago area mothers and children.

Dr. Choucair recently received the prestigious 2009 Loretta Lacey Maternal and Child Health Advocacy award from the Illinois Maternal & Child Health Coalition for his work on behalf of family health initiatives.

Also attending were Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-13th), various HIHC board members, and several of the community activists who spearheaded the drive to bring HIHC to Rogers Park.

Editor’s Note: Kimberly Tester serves as Grants Manager at HIHC. She can be reached via email at . For more information about HIHC, visit:

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