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Funding obtained to keep facilities’ doors open

“HealthReach has changed my life. They exceeded any other agency that I went to for help. HealthReach helped me get the care I needed to get better and get back to work. I thank God for the people of HealthReach who cared about me,” said an anonimous patient, one of 5,000, who receive care from HealthReach.

Updated: March 1, 2013 6:33AM

HealthReach clinics in Waukegan and Mundelein will stay open until 2014 when they merge with another health care provider for the poor and uninsured after funding came from area hospitals brought together by former State Sen. Susan Garrett.

The clinics, the only facilities to offer free health care in the county, were facing financial challenges from decreasing donations and increasing patient needs, said Nancy Bock, executive director for HealthReach.

“So we approached Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital and they put us touch with Garrett,” she said. Garrett, a Democrat from Lake Forest who had been in the general assembly since 1998 and was always interested in more accessible health care for the poor, agreed to try and help HealthReach.

She enlisted the help of State Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, and called on top executives of four hospitals in Lake County including: Thomas McAfee, President, Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital; Jesse Peterson Hall, President, NorthShore Highland Park Hospital; Barbara Martin, CEO, Vista HealthSystem; and Dominica Tallarico, President, Advocate Condell Medical Center.

They all meet and then approached Ernest Vasseur, executive director of the Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County, and his board of directors, and they proposed to match financial donations from the hospitals.

“We are overwhelmed by the recognition of the value of HealthReach to Lake County. Our cost-cutting measures had been maximized, but the increased cost of providing these critical services continued,” said Bock, adding that every month 60 new patients come to HealthReach.

“These donations allow HealthReach to continue to provide care to the most vulnerable. We are so grateful for this outpouring of support for the important work we do,” she said.

The Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County was incorporated in 2006, following the sale of Saint Therese Medical Center and Victory Memorial Hospital to Community Health Systems. The sale proceeds from this transaction were transferred to the foundation. The foundation has provided funding to HealthReach in the past.

Bock said that in July of 2014 the clinics will merge with Erie Family Health Center, which received a $4 million capital grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to build a new facility in Lake County. Erie began on the west side of Chicago in 1957 by physician Dr. Robert Snyder, an internist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, after he became frustrated with the lack of care in the neighborhood. He started getting help from Northwestern medical students. By 1970, it was a full fledged community health care center.

“We will merge with them. It’s going to be great for the area,” said Bock.

HealthReach has provided free primary medical and dental care and medications to poor, uninsured Lake County residents since 1992. HealthReach does not receive any state, federal or private insurance reimbursement for the care given by our 43 volunteer physicians and dentists. Hospitals also provide inkind care such as surgeries on an as needed basis.

The Mundelein and Waukegan clinics are supported by the generous donations of corporate and private foundations, individual donations and even the donations of our patients when they can afford to help.

For more information on HealthReach, visit website at

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