ROGERS PARK — Politicians, residents and activists on Monday celebrated the opening of Heartland Health Centers Devon Avenue clinic.
Years in the making, the new 9,200-square-foot clinic, which features a dozen exam rooms and a community room, began serving patients earlier this month.
"We did this. All of us, together," Jim Ginderske said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Ginderske leads the health care advocacy group Neighbors for a Healthy Rogers Park, which helped gather support for Heartland's first Rogers Park clinic, which opened in 2007 on Touhy Avenue.
Ben Woodard says the facility has some interesting eco-friendly features:
But that clinic has been "bursting at the seams" for years, serving 4,000 patients, Heartland Health Centers CEO Gwenn Rausch said.
So she and Ginderske's group had been searching for the right place to open a brand new clinic, and finally decided on the lot of a former funeral home at 1300 W. Devon Ave.
Construction began in October. Pipes for geothermal heating were drilled 500 feet below the clinic for the building's heating, and solar panels were installed on the roof by development partner Madison Construction and Three Corners Development.
The building was certified LEED Platinum, the highest ranking for eco-friendly buildings.
In 2011, Heartland received a $3 million state grant to help build the center.
"For us to get together to do something this spectacular had to seem a little bit crazy at first," Ginderske said. "What we've done here is really great, and it was done by us and our community."
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) praised the Affordable Care Act, which includes funding for similar clinics around the country.
"If I didn't feel well and I needed to see a medical professional, I'd walk through that door with confidence," Durbin said.
State Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) were also in attendance. Steans said the centers would help keep low-income residents "out of emergency rooms."
The clinic intends to serve 5,000 patients a year, the majority of whom are low-income, uninsured or underinsured residents.
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