The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced yesterday that Erie Family Health Center has received a grant to open a new health center in Evanston. This grant will provide $650,000 of annual support toward the operation of the center. It is one of 219 new grants nationwide and one of 11 in the State of Illinois. 

“This is a great day for the City of Evanston. A Federally Qualified Health Center will be the catalyst for improving the health and wellness of Evanston residents,” said Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl. “I want to thank Senator Dick Durbin and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky for their steadfast leadership in bringing this Center to Evanston. The support of Senator Durbin, Congresswoman Schakowsky, Evanston Health Director Evonda Thomas, and our broad range of partners — including Evanston and St. Francis Hospitals, local social service agencies, and Erie Family Health Center — will help us create a center that will make a real impact in people’s lives and leverage the services already provided by Evanston’s Health Department,” Mayor Tisdahl continued. 

The City of Evanston experienced a reduction in the availability of primary health care services in recent years due to costs. In 2007, after more than100 years of operation, the Evanston Health Department eliminated all direct medical services except pediatric dentistry. As a result, many area residents have been without access to needed primary health care services. To address the unmet health needs of Evanston residents, the City of Evanston partnered with Erie Family Health Center, an operator of established community health centers in the City of Chicago, to develop a plan for the health center which was funded today. 

“Erie Family Health Center has provided community health care services to Chicago residents for more than 50 years, and this grant allows us to partner with the City of Evanston to expand our reach,” said Dr. Lee Francis, President and CEO, Erie Family Health Center. “There is a need for affordable health care in Evanston and Skokie and the surrounding communities, and we look forward to the opportunity to serve patients and provide them with high-quality care.” 

Since 1957, Erie Family Health Center has been providing compassionate care to its patients. Today, Erie serves approximately 37,500 patients a year — many from low-income families — at 11 health centers, including three large primary care centers, a teen health center, five school-based health centers and two oral health centers. 

Erie will expand its comprehensive service delivery model to Evanston and the surrounding suburbs, providing primary medical services, oral health services, behavioral health, and enabling services all under one roof. The Evanston Erie site will serve as a medical home for the target population, allowing patients to establish an ongoing relationship with their provider of choice, receive a variety of health care services and receive referrals for services not offered on site. The proposed service delivery model is responsive to identified health needs in the community, thereby increasing access to high quality health services for the target population and reducing the resulting health disparities experienced by the community. 

“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,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). “This new health center would help fill that gap. It is great news for the community and could not have been accomplished without the strong leadership of Mayor Tisdahl, the Erie Family Health Center and all of their partners,” Durbin continued. 

“I am thrilled by the Department of Health and Human Services decision to fund the expansion of Erie Family Health Center services into the Evanston and Skokie area – bringing critical health services to low-income individuals in need of a primary health care provider,” said U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (DIL-9). “Approximately one quarter of African Americans and Latinos in the Evanston and Skokie area live below the poverty line. This decision is a great first step to address the large and increasing need for healthcare services in my district. 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.” 

“This is the best response possible to the unmet health needs of the residents of the City of Evanston and surrounding communities,” said Evanston Health Department Director Evonda Thomas. “Community health centers focus on preventive care, such as immunizations and screenings, as well as the diagnosis and management of chronic illnesses, including diabetes, asthma, heart and lung disease, depression and HIV/AIDS.” 

Mayor Tisdahl concluded, “This grant will allow us to improve people’s lives. The Evanston Erie Health Center will transform the health and wellness for every person who walks through its doors.”