New health center expected to serve 14,000 under-insured patients per year
BY BOB OKON firstname.lastname@example.org June 21, 2013 9:32PM
Updated: July 24, 2013 6:53AM
The new Joliet Community Health Center should serve 14,000 patients a year when it is fully operational, officials said Thursday at an opening ceremony for the clinic that serves uninsured and under-insured patients.
The 19,000-square-foot building is at 1200 Eagle St., on the former Joliet campus of Silver Cross Hospital.
“Make no mistake, this is the community’s building,” Raul Garza, chief executive officer of Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center, said at the ceremony.
Aunt Martha’s owns and operates the clinic, which provides primary care, dental treatment and behavioral health services.
The Joliet building is the largest in Aunt Martha’s network of 20 health centers around Illinois. It was built with federal stimulus funding. Silver Cross donated the land and has provided a $500,000 grant for the clinic to get started.
“We wouldn’t be here without Silver Cross Hospital and the leadership at Silver Cross,” Garza said.
Olympia Fields-based Aunt Martha’s provides health care for people without insurance or without enough insurance to cover their medical needs.
Silver Cross Hospital chief executive officer Paul Pawlak noted that the health center also fulfills a commitment made to state regulators when they approved the construction of a new Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox.
“What the state said was, ‘You can build a new hospital, but we’re asking you and we’re telling you that you have to bring primary care to residents on the East Side of Joliet,’ ” Pawlak said.
Silver Cross sought out Aunt Martha’s to be the primary care provider, he said.
“We know that Aunt Martha’s is going to continue to bring the quality medical services that we brought to this campus over the last 100 years,” Pawlak said.
The new Aunt Martha’s building follows the opening earlier this year of a Veterans Affairs clinic in the former Silver Cross emergency center. The veterans clinic is located across from the Aunt Martha’s facility.
Will County Executive Larry Walsh said Silver Cross has done “a tremendous job” of bringing medical services back to the vacated campus. He also said, “There is a huge demand for services for our citizens in Joliet and Will County.”
The demand for behavioral health services, including treatment for substance abuse and psychiatric care, is expected to jump in January because of an expansion of Medicaid to cover that type of care, said Dr. Joe Troiani, director of behavioral health at the Will County Health Department.
“There are people who need services but don’t access them because they don’t have insurance,” Troaini said.
Even so, the demand is great enough now that patients can be on a three-month waiting list to see a doctor for behavioral health at the Will County Health Department, Troaini said. He expects the availability of behavioral health care at Aunt Martha’s to help shorten that wait.