First Lady Michelle Obama yesterday announced the release of more than $37 million in federal stimulus money, which will allow existing health clinics in Illinois to expand and improve their facilities. Nineteen clinics in Chicago are set to receive more than $15 million in capital improvement grant funds.
Clinics can use the funds to purchase equipment, upgrade facilities and increase access to Illinois residents.
“Community health centers provide care to the Americans who need it most and their work has never been more important,” Obama said in a statement. “These grants will help centers in Illinois serve more Americans who simply can’t afford insurance coverage anymore.”
Dr. Hugo Alvarez, deputy medical officer for Access Community Health Network, which was awarded $2.5 million, says the funds are badly needed, and will be used to improve the services it provides patients.
“Many of the facilities that we operate have not had major renovations in a number of years. These are very needed funds,” he says.
Among the planned improvements is the purchase of a storefront adjacent to the Kedzie Family Medical Center, expanding the size of the clinic. Alvarez says its Cabrini Medical Center will move to a nicer facility a block away from its current location at 1858 W. 35th St.
Brent Michel, marketing director for Lawndale Christian Health Center, which is due more than $1.6 million, says the money will allow the center to accommodate more than 20,000 visits a year.
“What we can do with this extra stimulus money is to create more space to see patients. We see as many patients as we can right now,” he says. The center will open a new facility in Archer Heights and expand an existing site at Farragut Career Academy.
The stimulus funds come as the Illinois General Assembly wrangles with a budget that threatens human services in the state, and as many agencies in Chicago and elsewhere fret about the future of their patients.
Gov. Pat Quinn says billions of dollars destined for health and human service clinics in Chicago and the state are at risk if legislators don’t agree to an income tax hike.
Among locally-based agencies receiving funds, the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois received $747,490, and the University of Illinois College of Medicine received an undisclosed amount. The University of Chicago’s Friend Family Health Center is set to receive more than $1 million.
Chicago clinics receiving stimulus money are:
Daily News Staff Writer Alex Parker covers public health. He can be reached at 773.362.5002, ext. 17, or alex [at] chitowndailynews [dot] org.