Erie Family Health Center: 2008 – 2009

Erie Family Health Center

Erie Family Health Center’s mission is to provide accessible, affordable and high-quality health care for those in need. Erie was founded in 1957 as a volunteer clinic with physicians from Northwestern Memorial Hospital to serve the residents of the West Town neighborhood. Since then, Erie has developed health programs for all ages, evolving into a full-service community health center. Erie provides comprehensive health services at nine health centers: three large primary health care centers, one adolescent-only health center, three school-based health centers and two dental health centers to over 30,000 patients annually. In addition to providing primary medical care, including internal medicine, family practice, women’s health, and pediatrics. Erie also offers HIV/AIDS services, behavioral health counseling, oral health services, eye care, and health education.

Erie Helping Hands Health Center, located in Albany Park, provides primary health services, including health education, lab services and medications, through over 1,000 visits a month.  Its services include Adult and Senior Services, Behavioral Health Counseling, Case Management, Health and Wellness Programs, Women’s Health Services, Children’s Health Services and Prenatal Health Services. This site cares for patients from 100 different zip codes, including 54 suburban zip codes. Ninety-two percent of the patients are Latino and 78% speak Spanish in their homes. The majority of patients at this site are adult and more than 40% lack insurance.  To meet the growing demand for high quality health services, Erie Helping Hands relocated to a larger, nearby facility in October 2009. The new facility offers 18 spacious exam rooms, twice the number of the previous site, covering 8,500 square feet. The expansion will help Erie meet the growing demand for health care and allow for enhanced education and outreach programs, too.

As part of the relocation, Erie Helping Hands Health Center expanded and updated much of its clinical equipment to ensure that the new facility is state-of-the-art. Generous support from the Washington Square Health Foundation supported the new Erie Helping Hands Health Center by providing for the purchase of a Colposcope and three Fetal Dopplers to increase access to cervical cancer screening and high quality OB/GYN care at the facility.

This equipment strengthens the quality of care offered to patients at Erie Helping Hands Health Center. Women not only rely on Erie Helping Hands Health Center as a place where they receive routine women’s health services, but they can now receive necessary follow-up procedures for their abnormal Pap smears. On-site, Helping Hands providers are able to view and remove abnormal cervical cells—ultimately helping to reduce late stage cervical cancer diagnosis and improving overall gynecological health. The Fetal Dopplers also improve care quality. Listening to the baby’s heartbeat is an important part of prenatal care; it can help identify any possible pregnancy complications.  This equipment greatly enhances Erie Helping Hand Health Center’s ability to provide comprehensive health care services to women, without any delays, improving the quality and efficiency of care.

Washington Square Health Foundation is a longstanding partner of Erie, supporting our ongoing efforts to increase access to health care and eliminate barriers to care for our patients. The Foundation has previously provided support to our school-based health centers, as well as our innovative diabetes, adolescent health, and prenatal care programming. With this current grant, Washington Square Health Foundation ensures that Erie will advance its women’s health and prenatal care services.