Twenty-five years ago, Michele Shubitowski came on board as Erie’s first—and only—nurse at the Teen Health Center. At the time, it was just a small storefront in the West Town neighborhood of Chicago, and the idea that adolescents required a different model of care than adults or children was just emerging.
But Michele understood well the need for a tailored method of providing care to adolescents—especially the extremely complex adolescents that Erie typically serves.
“These aren’t just any teenagers,” said Michele of her patients. “They have a lot of baggage; they’re dealing with poverty, or state custody, or they’re learning how to become new parents—and all of this is on top of the usual teenage angst that the average teenager experiences. It’s an extra layer of hardship for them.”
Michele has led the way as Erie built its services for teens. From 2000 to 2009, she served as the Director of the Teen Center. With her guidance, the Teen Center grew to accommodate a full team of clinicians. Erie Teen Center, now located at Erie Division Street, provides a comprehensive array services to more than 6,000 teens annually, from behavioral health care to testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and has become an essential regional resource.
In recognition of her leadership, the Illinois Primary Health Care Association honored Michele this past October with the Danny K. Davis Achievement Award, recognizing her outstanding service to the community health center movement above and beyond the call of duty.
“Michele is a leader here—the staff looks to her for guidance each day,” said Robin Varnado, current Director of the Teen Center. “She is a thoughtful teacher and has been a mentor to each one of us, and we’re grateful for her tremendous contribution to Erie’s adolescent population.”
Michele’s empathy and tireless efforts to provide a safe, confidential, and healthy haven for Chicago’s most vulnerable teens has impacted the well-being of the entire community. An entire generation of young people has benefited from her skills, wisdom and compassion.
Make a donation to Erie Family Health Center today, and support our dedicated staff.