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Over 60 years Erie has …
…Served more than 700,000 patients
administered over 3 million visits
attended to patients speaking 60 different languages
cleaned nearly 4 million teeth
provided over 70,000 mental health consultations
delivered more than 25,000 babies,
maintained our commitment to those in need.
Our Board Member Richard Romanowski composed this song about Erie’s impact in the community.
Erie’s 60th Anniversary
A Meeting of Minds
Chicago’s West Side in the 1950s was an industrial hub and destination for thousands of immigrants from Europe and Latin America as well as migrants from the rural South.
To overcome the enormous socioeconomic and cultural challenges they faced, many turned to Erie Neighborhood House, an established social services organization.
An Erie house volunteer, Carmella Genova Jacob, was deeply concerned about the prevalence of illness and the community’s lack of access to medical care. She worried about the spread of tuberculosis and the looming polio epidemic. She confided her worries to her own doctor.
The doctor, Robert A. Snyder, was a faculty member at Northwestern University Medical School. He too was troubled by the critical lack of affordable health services in the impoverished West Side community. Then he and Mrs. Jacob had an inspiration: together they could marshal the resources of the medical school and community. The idea for a free clinic was born.
The partnership resulted in a successful drive for medical supplies and volunteers who provided free polio vaccinations for hundreds of residents, saving lives and establishing the clinic as an essential community resource
1950's: Turning a Vision Into Reality
A one-room clinic opened at Erie Neighborhood House on Chicago’s West Side. A volunteer staff provided basic medical care for community residents two afternoons each week. Clinic co-founders Carmella Genova Jacob and Dr. Robert A. Snyder collaborated to acquire polio vaccine for hundreds of children who otherwise would not have received it.
In 1957, the Carmella Genova Jacob Clinic opened as a free clinic in partnership with Northwestern University Medical School. The school’s faculty members supervised senior medical students to provide care for community residents.
1960's: Expanding Access to Preventive Care
Erie and the medical school increased the clinic’s hours to include one evening a week as demand for services grew. The clinic expanded volunteer, staff and space to accommodate growth.
Medical school student and faculty participation increased to care for patients with acute illness. The clinic initiated new services including counseling for teens, prenatal and preventive care.
The clinic partnered with area hospitals and other agencies to connect patients and their families with a more comprehensive array of needed health and social services.
1970's: Responding to a need for growth
Community members, physicians and public health officials established an advisory board and in 1970 incorporated the Erie clinic as a separate nonprofit organization called West Town Health Center. Four years later it was renamed Erie Family Health Center.
In the 1970s Erie expanded to provide pediatric, obstetrical, family planning and nutritional services. The clinic sought and received grants to support the hiring of physicians and other clinical staff. By the end of the decade, Erie had built a small team to include medical and behavioral health providers and nurses.
1980's: Focusing on communities most in need
Erie earned designation as a federally qualified health center by achieving the U.S. Public Health Service’s standards for patient care and community responsiveness. Its mandate was to care for underserved, primarily Spanish-speaking immigrants living in West Town, Humboldt Park and Logan Square.
Erie opened its Humboldt Park location as well as Erie Teen Center, the first freestanding clinic for teens in Illinois.
Lending Hands for Life was established as the first program on the West Side to provide testing and support for low-income, predominantly Hispanic patients with HIV/AIDS.
1990's: Advancing health for children of all ages
Erie launched a school-based health initiative to provide accessible care for children. Westside Family Health Center, Erie’s first school-based health center, opened at Ryerson School. By 2011, Erie would grow to five sites, making it one of the largest school-based health providers in Chicago.
Responding to a statewide increase in teen births and infant mortality, Erie implemented a newborn health initiative. In 1994, the Chicago Department of Public Health recognized Erie for the success of this effort.
2000's: Innovating to improve patient health
Two state-of-the art Erie dental clinics at Erie Humboldt Park and adjacent to the new Helping Hands site opened to provide children, pregnant women and diabetic patients with high quality dental care.
Erie became one of the nation’s first health centers to adopt electronic health records through a partnership it cofounded, the Alliance for Chicago Community Health Centers.
Erie’s health promotion department grew to offer community support systems and educational programs on topics such as nutrition, disease prevention, healthy pregnancies, raising healthy children.
2010's: Pioneering care in at-risk communities
Erie expanded with new sites in high-need communities. In Chicago, Erie Division Street and Erie Foster Avenue opened their doors. Erie Evanston/Skokie and Erie HealthReach Waukegan brought Erie care to the north suburbs.
Erie was an original participant in the Teaching Health Center Program and currently provides training for more than 300 doctors and other medical professionals. Family Medicine residents are trained through Erie’s partnerships with the McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University in Humboldt Park and at Lake Forest Hospital, as well as Swedish Covenant Hospital.