Getting your Evanston news from Facebook? Try the Evanston RoundTable’s free daily and weekend email newsletters – sign up now!

After offering clinical health services to residents and non-residents for decades, the City’s Department of Health and Human Services is undergoing a significant restructuring. The shift follows the decision by the City Council in February 2007 to cut most of the clinical services provided by the Health Department. The cuts, said then-City Manager Julia Carroll, were projected to save the City approximately $1 million annually.

As the department transitions from what was once a vital community health-care provider into more of a planning and coordinating agency, local health care and social service providers, as well as City staff, have struggled to fill many of the gaps in services left behind by the budget cuts.

Refocusing

“The vision is an alliance-building model,” said Evonda Thomas, who has been with the City’s Health Department since 2005 and was appointed director last January when Jay Terry retired after 18 years at the department’s helm.

Ms. Thomas said the department will take a three-pronged approach toward providing public health in Evanston: assessments, assurance and policy development. Through citizen surveys, data analysis and qualitative needs-assessments, the department staff will identify “what the community’s needs are … and arrive at program development,” she said.

The department will implement a “feedback system to assure that [services are provided],” she said, as well as use the system to monitor the quality of care.

The staff, which lost 12 full-time positions last year, Ms. Thomas said, will also address the community’s healthcare needs by working with local, county and state officials to develop policies that will improve access to healthcare for Evanston residents.

“It’s an opportunity to envision what we could be based on the needs that exist,” Ms. Thomas said. “As a