UI Health’s Mile Square adds new school-based clinic

Physician and young patient

UI Health’s latest school-based clinic will open in 2017. ­(Photo: UI Health)

The University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System will renovate and operate a new federally qualified, school-based health center at Bronzeville’s John B. Drake Elementary School in 2017.

The Drake Health & Wellness Center will serve approximately 400 students, including students from Drake Elementary, nearby schools, and Dearborn Homes, one of the last remaining public housing communities of the former State Street corridor. The center will become the 13th in UI Health’s Mile Square network of federally qualified health centers.

At a press conference Sept. 23 at Drake Elementary, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, State Sen. Mattie Hunter and Alderman Pat Dowel joined representatives from UI Health, the Chicago Department of Public Health, Chicago Public Schools and the community to announce the new school-based center, which is funded in part by revenue from the city’s new e-cigarette tax.

“From passing a series of reforms to curb youth smoking, to increasing access to health care for children and families citywide, we are making investments that will help our kids across the city to grow up healthy,” Emanuel said in a news release. “Using revenue derived from our tax on e-cigarettes allows us to double-down on our commitment to our children’s health, funding new opportunities for families to access health care at no cost, and parents to get their children critical health care so that they can be successful in school.”

Robert Barish, vice chancellor for health affairs at UIC, said the new center embodies the university’s longstanding mission to reduce health disparities in Chicago’s underserved populations.

“UI Health has a strong commitment to improve health care delivery and health equity across Chicago,” Barish said. “The Drake Health & Wellness Center expands our reach into a neighborhood disproportionately burdened by serious health risks and with limited access to health care options.

“The city’s commitment to funding school-based clinics with e-cigarette tax revenue is an innovative approach to reducing health risk and disparity in Chicago, and I am excited that UIC is involved in the initiative,” said Barish.

The new health center will outfit existing space at the school.

Cynthia Barnes-Boyd, senior director of community engagement and neighborhood health partnerships and senior director of the Mile Square Health Center school-based health practice at UIC, said the health center will provide comprehensive care, including acute and chronic illness management, nutrition services, and referral to the university’s hospital system for diagnostic and specialty care.

“We are very proud to expand our reach to the community and offer a range of services to children and families that include immunizations, physical exams, sports physicals, reproductive health care and behavioral health support,” Boyd said.

The Drake Health & Wellness Center joins 32 other school-based centers across Chicago and is one of five school-based centers operated by UI Health Mile Square.