Touted as an innovative model for community healthcare, the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System on Friday offered a first look of its new, five-story Mile Square Health Center. The facility, scheduled to open Jan. 6, will be one of the first federally qualified community health centers
to incorporate urgent and specialty care, along with providing primary-care services.
The 122,000-square-foot, $44 million building will be the flagship facility for the Mile Square network of community health centers, which have 12 sites in some of the poorest neighborhoods of Chicago. More than 76,000 patient visits are expected during the first year of operation, said Dr. Robert Winn, UI Heath's associate vice president for community-based practice. Many patients will be newly insured people through the expansion of Medicaid to cover all adults earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level and the expansion of private coverage through the state insurance exchange.
Specialty care including obstetrics, gynecology, pediatrics, ophthalmology, psychiatry, otolaryngology, endocrinology, pulmonology and cardiology will be provided on the second floor of the center. Two telemedicine rooms will allow specialists to manage care in other Miles Square centers for patients unable to visit the main facility.
Winn said the new facility demonstrates an effort to transform the model of care that has been provided by many community health centers since their inception in the 1960s. “One of the things that our communities and our underserved populations have been sort of telling us is that we haven't been catching up to their needs,” Winn said. “The Affordable Care Act has provided people with insurance, and that's a good thing. But insurance without access is a really uncoupled reaction. I think this is one of the bolder steps beyond the Affordable Care Act of trying to address the issues of our communities.”
“It's a great way to recruit new patients here,” said Dr. Kameron Matthews, Mile Square's medical director. “We will be opening to patients who are not otherwise situated here, and we would love to bring them into the system, assign them a primary-care physician and provide them with an actual medical home.”
Only the first and second floors will be in operation for the first several months. The third, fourth and fifth floors remain unfinished. The plans are to offer dental services as well as community-based research and education programs to fill those floors. Follow Steven Ross Johnson on Twitter: @MHSjohnson