Heartland Health Services is an example of how a community addresses its share of a nation-wide problem: a growing segment of the population, spanning all ages, lacks access to health care. The working poor, unemployed, and children are among those affected. When faced with a need for care many do without because they have no insurance, little or no money, and are ineligible for government assistance programs.
The physicians of Peoria Medical Society viewed this problem with increasing concern and appointed a task force to study the issue. It was found that many people in the community shared these concerns and were willing to work towards a solution.
After months of study, the medical, business, and religious communities of Peoria worked together to develop Heartland Health Services located at 600 NE Monroe Street, Peoria, IL.
The clinic began operating on December 10, 1991. The clinic was primarily staffed by volunteers with only one paid employee. The primary care physicians who worked in the clinic, the specialists to whom they referred, the nurses, pharmacists, social workers, and clerical personnel were all donating their time and services. Most of the supplies and equipment used in the clinic were donated. Peoria’s three hospitals provided diagnostic testing and inpatient services at no charge to the patient on a monthly rotation.
Heartland Health Services (HHS) was designated as a federally qualified health center (FQHC) February 1, 2004. Its targeted population includes the largest concentration of low-income adults and children and the greatest percentage of minorities, uninsured, underinsured, medically indigent and homeless within the city of Peoria and the larger Tri-county region. Heartland’s receives support of the local healthcare systems, the medical schools, community partners and the local businesses.
Heartland employs approximately 195 employees to serve nearly 22,403 unduplicated patients annually. The community health center’s main site is located at 1701 W. Garden, in the south end of Peoria. Downtown bisects Peoria’s high-poverty and high-minority population, which are concentrated in the north and south valleys and increasing in the East Bluff with the same population pools. Heartland added a second primary site located at 711 W. John Gwynn Jr. Ave. was established in May 2006. An additional community health center site was added in August 2007 to the East Bluff, located at 2321 N. Wisconsin Avenue.
This site was expanded in June 2009 to provide additional medical exam rooms. During calendar year 2013, 34,451 visits were provided to 11,645 unduplicated patients. As of February 3, OSF Sisters Clinic became a part of Heartland Health Services. By working together, the two clinics – supported by UICOMP physician residency program, can do more for the medically underserved in the Peoria area for those seeking primary health care services.
This partnership eliminated duplication of efforts and allowed all three organizations to continue to provide efficient and effective Access to Quality, Affordable Health Care services. The addition of the Armstrong location added over 80 staff members seeing over 8,799 patients per year.