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Expanding Access to Care in Chicago's Englewood Neighborhood

Fri, 08/13/2010 - 8:31pm
Baxter

More than 40 million Americans lack adequate health insurance. This includes an estimated 1.3 million in the Chicago area, where Baxter International Inc. is headquartered. As a leading healthcare company, Baxter is committed to increasing access to healthcare around the world through both its business and its community efforts, particularly in areas where Baxter employees live and work.

CommunityHealth's flagship location at 2611 W. Chicago Avenue in Chicago.

CommunityHealth is the largest free health clinic in Illinois and one of the largest in the United States. Approximately 80 percent of its patients are from working families, and all are uninsured and living at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty level. As a volunteer-based, non-profit organization, CommunityHealth receives no money from Medicare, Medicaid or third-party payers, relying on individuals, foundations and corporations for more than 90 percent of its revenue. Services are provided by more than 700 volunteers, including more than 400 volunteer physicians from Chicago's leading healthcare institutions.

Baxter has been a generous supporter of CommunityHealth, contributing both financially and through employee involvement. In 2009, Baxter employees in northern Illinois donated toothbrushes, toothpaste, aspirin, vitamins, reading glasses and other items to CommunityHealth as part of Baxter's “Companies That Care” day. Baxter also has been a supporter of CommunityHealth's annual fundraiser.

Baxter employees also provide volunteer support, with one employee – Valery Gallagher, a director in Baxter's Government Affairs and Public Policy group – serving on CommunityHealth's board of directors.

“Baxter and CommunityHealth are natural partners,” Gallagher says. “We both support expanded access to healthcare.”

In 2009, CommunityHealth conducted more than 22,000 medical visits – a record high – from its current site on the west side of Chicago. Late this summer, CommunityHealth will open a second clinic, this one in Chicago's underserved Englewood neighborhood on the city's south side. Gallagher was instrumental in helping CommunityHealth receive public funding for the new clinic.

“When I joined their board in May 2008, I was looking for an opportunity to better understand the challenges faced by healthcare providers from a provider's point of view, while they were looking for someone with public policy experience to serve on their board,” Gallagher says. “Specifically, they were looking for someone who could help them gain financial support from the public sector so they could expand into the unmet service area of Englewood.”

Gallagher, who chairs the board's public policy committee, led lobbying efforts at both the state and federal level that resulted in $250,000 in funding to get the new clinic up and running. It is expected to open shortly after Labor Day.

“Valery is so well respected on both sides of the aisle and has the unique ability to tell our story in terms that resonate with our elected officials,” says Judith Haasis, executive director, CommunityHealth. “The launch of our new Englewood site is a testament to her effectiveness as a champion for CommunityHealth and the vulnerable patient population we are privileged to serve.”

“All of this supports Baxter's commitment to the community and expanding access to healthcare,” Gallagher says. “Everyone talks about lack of access outside the United States, but there is a tremendous unmet need in the United States. Despite Medicare, Medicaid and healthcare reform, there will still be millions of people who will not have access to healthcare. So there will always be a need for these free clinics. CommunityHealth serves as the safety net of all safety nets in our home community. My efforts merely reflect this overall commitment on the part of Baxter."

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