Clinic “Safety Net” Catches Those Falling through Gaps in Illinois’ Healthcare System

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Ben Mueller, a retiree/rehire from the University of Illinois, most recently completed an overseas assignment in April, 2016 for a USAID supported project as Chief of Party for Strengthening Extension and Advisory Services in Georgia. When not working on international development projects, Ben is active as a volunteer for the Avicenna Community Health Center and the C-U Immigration Forum.



Avicenna wins 2016 Immigration Welcome Award



Avicenna is regarded as one of the most significant thinkers and writers of the Islamic Golden Age.


Founded in 2009, Avicenna Community Health Center (ACHC) is a free, interfaith, and interdisciplinary clinic providing healthcare services for uninsured members of Champaign County. Since 2013, Avicenna Community Health Center has entered into an innovative partnership with Promise Healthcare at the Frances Nelson Health Center. ACHC is sharing office and clinical facilities to expand services to the uninsured that are not eligible or unable to meet the Medicaid assistance or ACA subsidized insurance requirements. Named for the famous historical physician, Avicenna’s foundations are built on a systemic, holistic approach that builds upon strong academia-community partnerships, cutting-edge use of biomedicine technologies, and a commitment to providing a learning environment to cultivate the next generation healthcare workforce.

The ACHC mission is composed of three primary goals, which are to provide healthcare for the local uninsured, to engage in preventive healthcare through community health screenings, and to promote health awareness through education and information dissemination. The clinic offers numerous services including physical exams, nutrition and exercise counseling, social work and Planned Parenthood consultations, free laboratory tests and medications, and physician consultations with direct referrals to local medical facilities for additional care when required.

It is estimated that 750,000 Illinois residents are not eligible for insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and do not have a primary care doctor. These individuals can access essential health care services through free and charitable clinics. For adults 18 to 64 in Champaign County, one in ten adults continue to lack insurance.

This year Avicenna is focusing on continuing to improve community awareness about those who remain uninsured in our community in two ways. First, Avicenna sponsored a garden workday at the Randolph Street Community Garden (at Neil Street and Beardsley Avenue in Champaign) on August 13th with a free picnic lunch. The Twin City Derby Girls selected Avicenna as their local community partner this year and collaborated with Avicenna for this event. The Randolph Street Community Garden provides the opportunity for local residents to grow fresh, organic produce.

Avicenna is also striving to increase awareness of our local community leaders and state representatives about the issues facing the uninsured in Illinois and especially in Champaign County. As part of Free and Charitable Clinics Week, August 14th-21st,. an open tour of the clinic took place on August 14th; State Senator Scott Bennett (52nd District)  and his aide Michelle Gonzales visited the clinic and expressed interest in assisting ACHC to secure additional resources for its operations. Future tours have been scheduled with State Representative Carol Ammons and Champaign City Council member Clarissa Fourman. Additional tours can be scheduled at the clinic’s site shared with the Promise Healthcare Frances Nelson Health Center, located at 819 Bloomington Road in Champaign. To schedule a tour on Sundays from 1-4 with Avicenna Community Health Center, call 217-418-5888 or visit the ACHC website:

“For the past six years and through over 3,000 patient visits, Avicenna has been providing health care services to hard-working adults who struggle to make ends meet,” said Katherine Magerko, Avicenna board member and MD/PhD scholar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Free and Charitable Clinics Week gave us the opportunity to share the progress we have made and the services we provide.”

Avicenna recently hired their first executive director, Geri Wirth. Geri comes with over thirty years of experience working as a family practice nurse. Among other projects, Geri is currently leading Avicenna through a new collaboration with Athenahealth to move Avicenna into a fully functional and supported electronic medical record system. Through athenaGives, free clinics across the nation are getting free access to high quality electronic medical record systems to help them better serve the 31 million uninsured Americans.

Illinois’s free and charitable clinics provide more than 83,000 visits to 68,000 patients annually, with volunteer physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals providing more than 150,000 hours of care to those who have fallen through the cracks of our healthcare system. Locally, four free clinics work together to provide services on multiple weekday evenings and on weekends. Other clinics include Champaign County Christian Health Center, HeRMES, and the Love Clinic.

“Promise Healthcare has recently added two walk-in clinics open weekdays at two locations,” stated the News Gazette‘s Debra Pressey, in her interview with Nancy Greenwalt, Executive Director of Promise Healthcare. “One is at Frances Nelson Center and the other is at the Community Resource Center at Presence Covenant Medical Center, 1400 W. Park, Parking Lot #3 in Urbana near the emergency department. The new walk-in clinics are offering typical convenient care services.” More information about the walk-in clinics can be obtained from Ms. Greenwalt by calling the Frances Nelson Health Center at 217-356-1558.

“While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has helped hundreds of thousands Illinoisans obtain health insurance, gaps still remain,” said Leslie Ramyk, Executive Director of the Illinois Association of Free & Charitable Clinics. “We welcome the opportunity to highlight the work Illinois clinics are doing to address those gaps. We also would like to take this occasion to thank the hundreds of volunteer healthcare professionals, including doctors and nurses, who generously provide their time and expertise to sustain our ‘doctors within borders’ effort.”

Free Clinics Located in Champaign-Urbana:

Avicenna Community Health Center Open: Sundays 1-4pm. Location: 819 Bloomington Rd., Champaign, IL. Website:

Champaign County Christian Health Center Open: Tuesdays 5:30-8pm and every other Wednesday 5:15-7pm. Location: 1400 West Park Street, Urbana, Il 61801; Community Resource Center, Parking Lot #3. Website:

HeRMES Clinic Open: Thursdays 6-8pm. Location: 2040 Orchard Street, Apt A, Urbana, Il 61801. Website:

The Love Clinic Open: Last Saturday of the month (Jan. – Oct.) 9am – 12pm. Location: The Church Of The Living God Campus, 310 E. Bradley, Champaign, IL. Website:

Contact: Avicenna Community Health Center or 217-418-5888

(Ben Mueller is on the staff of Avicenna)


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