Erie Family Health Opens Doors to Funders and Patients


Jennifer Ball/The Daily Northwestern

Erie Family Health board members gather to cut the ribbon at the new, permanent location of its Evanston health center. Evanston and Skokie mayors gave their remarks, and staff-led tours of the facility followed.

Jennifer Ball, Reporter

The new, permanent location of Erie Evanston/Skokie Health Center opened its doors to donors Wednesday morning for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

About 80 people attended the event in the lobby of the new health center.

Erie staff as well as Evanston and Skokie officials celebrated the opening of the 16,000-square-foot building.

“This is an absolutely beautiful facility,” Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said to the audience. “It is beyond our wildest dreams.”

Erie has partnered with Evanston, Skokie, NorthShore University HealthSystem and St. Francis Hospital to meet the healthcare needs of Evanston and Skokie residents.

The center, 1285 Hartrey Avenue, was officially open for business Nov. 4.

Erie Family Health has 11 other centers throughout the city of Chicago, but this is its first in Evanston.

“We are much more than just a doctor visit,” Erie CEO Dr. Lee Francis said to the crowd. “Today, as you tour the health center, you will see that.”

Erie Family Health had been temporarily stationed at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center since October 2012, before opening its state-of-the-art building.

The new Evanston health center provides pediatric care, internal medicine, family medicine, women’s health and oral health services for children. It also offers behavioral health, health education and case management services.

Erie has cared for 1,400 medical and 850 dental patients at its temporary location in the civic center, and it anticipates caring for 5,500 patients through more than 18,500 annual visits at the new, larger facility.

“Our services in the civic center were very limited,” Francis said. “Now is our chance to spread our wings.”

Its permanent location has five dental chairs, 15 exam rooms and one procedure room.

The behavioral health services include individual and couple’s counseling, offered in both English and Spanish.

Francis said Erie aims to provide high-quality health services to everyone, rich or poor.

“We welcome anyone from the Evanston, Skokie and surrounding communities regardless of their ability to pay,” Francis told the Daily.

Angelina Mejia, 60, started using Erie’s services last year. Mejia lives in Chicago, but she is originally from Mexico.

She was in for an appointment Wednesday with her daughter and husband.

“I am really happy with the service,” Mejia said in Spanish. “I am really thankful for the doctor and to NorthShore Hospital.”

Her doctor at Erie recently found a benign tumor that doctors were able to remove. Even when she did not have insurance, Erie helped Mejia be treated.

The health center has a staff member on site to help patients apply for insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The new establishment was made possible by a $650,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of the healthcare legislation.

NorthShore University HealthSystem contributed a $1.2 million donation, in addition to the $600,000 in operating support over the past three years. North Suburban Healthcare Foundation donated $1 million in capital renovation funds. 

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