Who We Are:
A medical home Through an innovative model supported by volunteerism and philanthropy, CommunityHealth will be the leader that defines excellence in delivering comprehensive, patient-centered health center at no cost to low-income, uninsured individuals and families in need of a medical home.
As the largest free clinic in Illinois and a leader among free clinics in the nation, we believe that no one should go without health care. CommunityHealth is committed to providing high-quality comprehensive health care at no cost to the patients. Each year more than 25,000 free medical and dental visits are provided for more than 8,200 economically disadvantaged, uninsured patients. We are able to do this with the help of over 400 volunteer providers (doctors, dentists, nurse practitioners, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, psychologists, etc.) and over 350 other volunteers (lab and triage assistants, translators, health educators, reception, etc.). We receive no government funding. For every $1 donated, $.97 goes directly to patient care – and for each dollar donated, we deliver $5.69 worth of services.
A medical training ground Since its inception, CommunityHealth has been a training ground for new generations of physicians, nurses and pharmacists, providing residents and students incomparable exposure to a very vulnerable patient population unlike any they would routinely see in a hospital setting. Formal and volunteer internal medicine residency programs operate on-site at our two locations and are essential to the health center's primary care services. Partners include Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Rush University Medical Center, Saint Joseph Hospital, the University of Chicago Medical Center, and Lutheran General Hospital.
Additionally, CommunityHealth is a center for education initiatives called Student-Run Clinics. These supervised clinics facilitate service-based learning for medical students interested in primary care and strive to foster a lasting commitment to treating the underserved. The Student-Run Clinics are associated with six area medical schools: Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine, Midwestern University’s Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago, Rush University Medical School and the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical School. Other academic training partnerships include: DePaul University’s Graduate Nursing Program, Rush College of Nursing, the University of Illinois, Chicago College of Pharmacy, Kennedy King (dental hygiene student training) and Midwestern University College of Pharmacy.
What we do:
At CommunityHealth, we are committed to being a medical home for all patients, providing a growing array of primary and specialty care (20+), dental, mental health, social work and health education services – as well as lab tests and medications through our licensed, on-site pharmacy MedAccess Chicago – at no cost to patients. We are located in the West Town neighborhood of Chicago on the near north side and the Englewood neighborhood on the city’s south side. Both CommunityHealth sites operate on an appointment-only basis and, whenever possible, appointments are scheduled so the patient can see the same provider at every visit. This is an improvement over most free and sliding scale service operations.
Because few uninsured and underserved individuals can afford routine, preventive care, they never develop ongoing relationships with their providers. As a result, chronic disease often goes undetected, and patients remain uninformed of their health risks and the important steps they can take to successfully manage their conditions. To provide additional support for patients with chronic conditions, a robust nurse case-management program works together with physicians to provide the additional support needed to help these high-risk patients succeed in achieving key health goals. To empower our patients to have better control of their health we offer educational classes, exercise classes, nutrition programming and peer support groups.
The majority of CommunityHealth’s patients are minorities, populations that are disproportionately living with chronic illnesses. 80% of the people we serve come from working families but are living at or below 250% of the Federal poverty level (FPL). Most are living at 100% FPL ($22,000 for a family of four). They earn too much for Medicaid, but too little to buy health insurance. The Englewood satellite serves a predominantly African American patient base. To date, 82% are African American and 13% identify themselves as Latino. At the West Town clinic, 53% of patients are Latino, 34% Caucasian (of whom 22% are Polish immigrants), 7% African American and 6% other. Patients come from Cook County and beyond to receive care.
CommunityHealth was founded in 1993 by Dr. Serafino Garella to provide free medical services for low-income, uninsured individuals who could not otherwise afford to access care. Eighteen years later, CommunityHealth has grown into the largest free clinic in Illinois and one of the most respected free clinics in the country. In its early years as a tiny storefront clinic on Chicago’s near north side, expansion to a second site would have seemed unimaginable. Yet through the years, the number of uninsured in the Chicago area has continued to grow, and CommunityHealth has responded with increasing access, services and programs. In September 2010, CommunityHealth opened the doors to it first satellite in the underserved neighborhood of Englewood on Chicago’s south side. This successful expansion speaks to the many innovative civic, institutional and philanthropic partnerships that fuel the organization and enable the continuing development and enrichment of services both in Englewood and at the main West Town facility.