Erie Family Health Center Logo
December 2014 Issue
Intervention Program Helps Erie Patient Beat Hepatitis C
Partnership with Health Disparities Project Removes Legal Barriers to Care for Children
Healthy Families Program Brings Care Home to First-Time Moms
Erie Helping Hands Helps Patients Reduce Risk of Hypertension
Save the date for Eriedescence 2015!
Support Erie's Mission
Donate Now
Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

View our profile on LinkedIn
Join Our Mailing List

Dear Friends of Erie,


Lee Francis

This holiday season - as I reflect on Erie's past achievements - I'm also excited about new and ongoing partnerships that will provide even more ways to offer patients compassionate, high quality care in the coming year. I'm proud to announce our initiative with the University of Chicago, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and other partners to test, treat and cure patients with the Hepatitis C virus.


In this issue, you'll read about Erie's program and meet a patient who is now disease free. You'll also learn about a new partnership with the Health Disparities Project. In cooperation with Erie's school-based health centers, the project identifies children from low-income families who are not receiving health care due to unaddressed legal issues. Project founder and lawyer, Sarah Hess, is passionate about providing free legal aid to help families overcome issues that are barriers to their children's care.


One way to ensure that children grow up healthy is to start before they're born. Our partnership with Healthy Families Illinois has a great track record of supporting new moms with weekly home visits from pregnancy until their children reach age three. This issue highlights a mother and her young toddler who have benefited from the program.


Finally, congratulations to providers at Erie Helping Hands! They recently completed a pilot program and were awarded recognition by the American Medical Association for advanced competencies in measuring blood pressure to help patients prevent hypertension and heart disease.


Warmest wishes for your holiday season!

Yours in Good Health, 


Lee Signature Black

Lee Francis, MD, MPH 

President and CEO
Erie Family Health Center

P. S.


Please save the date for Eriedescence, the annual fundraiser for Erie's Auxiliary Council, on Thursday, February 19, 2015!





Intervention Program Helps Erie Patient Beat Hepatitis C


After treatment at Erie, Heather Gelegdorj was pronounced HCV-free last December.


Many thousands of Chicagoans don't receive treatment for Hepatitis C (HCV). It is difficult to detect and expensive to treat. Like most people with the disease, Heather Gelegdorj was devastated when she learned she had HCV. But unlike many people, Heather is an Erie patient. She was able to overcome barriers and receive the most advanced treatment.


Through Erie providers, Heather participated in an HCV intervention program to test and treat HCV. She received guidance to apply for benefits that helped her afford treatment. Then, she received access to the latest treatments that are more effective and work faster than traditional ones. Today, Heather is free of the disease.


Erie's HCV test and treat program is made possible through numerous partnerships including the University of Chicago's Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes and Northwestern Memorial Hospital.   



Partnership with Health Disparities Project Removes Legal Barriers to Care for Children


Sarah Hess, J.D./Health Disparities Project/Skadden Fellow

Erie and the Health Disparities Project have teamed up to provide access to free legal aid that overcomes barriers to health for children living in poverty. Project founder, Sarah Hess, champions the legal right to health care for children. She works closely with practitioners at Erie's five school-based health centers to identify young patients whose health is at risk because of legal challenges. 


"It is heartbreaking to see how low socioeconomic status and impoverished environments impact the health of children and set them up for a lifetime of chronic disease - especially when many barriers to care can be overcome by legal means," states Hess. "Working with Erie school-based centers is a great opportunity to step in and help these children by removing legal barriers to health." 


Hess is an attorney with the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, collaborating with Loyola's Health Justice Project. The scope of her legal assistance includes housing, homelessness, public benefits, discrimination, guardianship, immigration and any other issues a youth or their guardian may be facing. She also assists unaccompanied minors with their right to consent to primary care services under a new law effective October 1, 2014. Minors must be age 14 to 18, living apart from their legal guardians, and managing their own affairs. With a certification form from Sarah, Erie providers can now treat these unaccompanied minors. 


Healthy Families Program Brings Care Home to First-Time Moms


Through Erie's partnership with Healthy Families Illinois, mothers like Maricruz receive the support and guidance they need.


Through a partnership with Healthy Families Illinois, Erie provides weekly in-home visits to support first-time moms. From pregnancy through their child's first three years, mothers receive one-on-one guidance from Erie's family support experts like Maribel Ramos. Ramos helps Erie patients achieve healthy pregnancies, positive parenting skills, stronger parent-child relationships and even support for their own educational and employment goals.


"At first, I was really stressed when I got pregnant. I didn't know what to do to have a healthy pregnancy," says Maricruz Romero, Erie patient and mother of Abriella, now a healthy two-year old. "Also, I was worried I would have to give up on my education and having a career."


Ramos visited her weekly to provide guidance on prenatal care and childbirth preparation. Since Abriella's birth, Ramos continued the visits to answer Romero's questions about breastfeeding, nutrition and healthy sleeping habits, child development, and to provide immunizations. Ramos also encouraged Romero to finish her education, and she is now a Certified Medical Assistant.


"Maribel has done wonders for our family, and we have such a strong relationship with her," says Romero. "We'll miss her when she can't visit us anymore!"


Erie Helping Hands Helps Patients Reduce Risk of Hypertension






Erie Helping Hands staff, represented by Site Director Dulce Quintero, Dr. Deborah Midgley and Lead Medical Assistant Gustavo Hernandez, received a plaque from the American Medical Association for the work they have been doing to develop a curriculum to improve blood pressure control in patients.


Erie Helping Hands, in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood, was one of nine health centers in Chicago and Baltimore that recently completed a year-long pilot program in collaboration with the American Medical Association (AMA) and Johns Hopkins University. As a result, Helping Hands has received AMA recognition for achieving advanced competencies that will result in better outcomes for patients with hypertension.


An estimated 7,000 Erie patients suffer from hypertension, or chronic high blood pressure. Long-term lack of care puts patients at risk for stroke, heart attack, dementia, kidney failure and other serious diseases. Accurate blood pressure measurement is the primary tool for helping patients control and reduce the risks of hypertension.


"Technique is critical to measure blood pressure accurately," states Dulce Quintero, Director of Operations at Helping Hands. "We are proud that our medical assistants have been recognized for meeting the highest standards in blood pressure measurement."



Helping Hands will continue the program through the coming year, with the goal of implementing this training at all other Erie locations. In addition, protocols will be developed to provide patients with education and technological support to monitor their blood pressure at home.







Save the date!



Thursday, February 19

6 - 9 p.m.

Galleria Marchetti

825 West Erie Street


Mark your calendar for an evening of cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, dancing, a silent auction and more!


All proceeds from Eriedescence 2015 will support Erie's holistic health education programs. These health and wellness programs help every member of the family stay healthy and active from infancy through adulthood, and enable patients to take control of and manage their own health, decreasing their reliance on frequent, expensive, or emergent care.


Hosted by Erie's Auxiliary Council.


Individual tickets: $65

Sponsorship packages: starting at $650


For more information, visit:

e-Spotlight is produced by Erie Family Health Center's Development and Communications Department. For any questions or to submit story ideas please contact Rachel Krause at