The City may get its health services back. At the May 24 City Council meeting, Evonda Thomas, director of health for the City, announced plans to establish a federally qualified health center (FQHC) in Evanston.

When the City closed most of its direct health services in 2007, the bulk of the objections were that there would be no local testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and support for low-income pregnant women.

Dismissing those concerns, City Council members said in 2007they felt sure such services – and others – would be picked up by other agencies. However, the increase in STIs among young women aged 14-24 has increased by 25 percent, according to data presented by Ms. Thomas. She said the increase in STIs is only one indicator that the residents of Evanston could benefit from additional health services.

An FQHC would not come without cost to the City, but funding would come principally from federal funds.

Ms. Thomas also envisions several public-private partnerships to help provide services.

We applaud Ms. Thomas’s passion about keeping the residents of Evanston healthy, and we hope an FQHC will be established here. Although the idea is young, Ms. Thomas has already proven herself. She capably oversaw the massive H1N1 vaccination program last fall and over the winter – 12,000 vaccinations administered and very few illnesses from what was termed a pandemic.

At the May 24 City Council meeting, Council members supported Ms. Thomas’s proposal. We know she will also need the help of the Cook County Board and the state legislature, and we count on our local representatives to help her create this boon for the community.