Grand Boulevard expansion provides community-based specialty care

October 29, 2008

Alderman Dowell, Dr. Madara and Donna Thompson cutting the ribbon Third ward Alderman Pat Dowell; James L. Madara, MD, CEO of the University of Chicago Medical Center; Donna Thompson, CEO of Access Community Health Network

Patients, physicians and others from the Medical Center and Access Community Health Network as well as South Side community leaders celebrated the expansion of the Grand Boulevard Family Health Center on Friday, September 26. The expansion marks an innovation in community-based health care, allowing UCMC specialty care physicians to practice at the Access Grand Boulevard Family Health Center.

Thanks to a $350,000 grant from the Medical Center's Urban Health Initiative (UHI), the clinic has almost doubled in size and upgraded its facilities, creating the additional capacity necessary to provide specialty care. Thirteen Medical Center specialty care physicians currently serve patients at the Access Grand Boulevard site.

Dr. Michelle Walker Michelle Walker, MD, a physician at the Access Grand Boulevard Health Center

The UHI has been working to build capacity and connect patients with primary care "medical homes" in the community. The Access investment extends this effort to scarce community-based specialty care resources.

"Our collaboration with the Access clinics, such as Grand Boulevard, helps solidify an expanding, cooperative system of independent health care providers in our community," said James L. Madara, MD, chief executive officer for the University of Chicago Medical Center and University Vice-President for Medical Affairs. "These deep, partnering relationships with many South Side health care providers help us serve a vulnerable population.

Medical Center, Access and community representatives at the ribbon cutting Left to right: Stephen J. Martin, MD; Daniel Johnson, MD; Tariq Butt, MD; Quin Golden; Alderman Pat Dowell; Michelle Walker, MD; James L. Madara, MD; Donna Thompson; Damon Arnold, MD; Joe Harrington; Kenneth Silver, MD; Timothy Sentongo, MD

“The University of Chicago Medical Center and Access Community Health Network share a common objective: to build a partnership that increases access to a continuum of high-quality primary and specialty care services for South Side residents,” added Donna Thompson, chief executive officer of Access Community Health Network. “Our strategic partnership with the Medical Center is focused on expanding patient care resources as well as on broadening teaching and research opportunity.”

Providing access to community-based healthcare has special meaning for Eric E. Whitaker, MD, MPH, Executive Vice President for Strategic Affiliations & Director of the Urban Health Initiative.

"I am a South Sider by birth and by choice, and became a physician to impact healthcare here," he said. "People who live in our community suffer extraordinarily high rates of chronic diseases--suffering that is amplified by the lack of connections to care. Collaboration between the Medical Center and providers like the Grand Boulevard Family Health Center is beginning to meet the critical challenge of providing quality, accessible health care in a community setting."

The UHI is collaboration between the Medical Center and community doctors, nurses, health centers and hospitals to improve the long-term health of South Side residents. Sixty Medical Center doctors are now working in UHI partner institutions. The Medical Center also has provided more than $2 million in the last year to help support partner institutions such as the grant to Grand Boulevard Family Health Center--part of an $8 million investment in the Initiative to date.

"It is ironic that in one of the richest countries in the world, we still have millions of children without access to primary and specialty health care," said Kenneth Silver, MD, pediatric neurologist and associate professor of pediatrics. "This partnership shows that we can provide high quality care that makes a positive long-term impact in this community."

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John Easton
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john.easton@uchospitals.edu