Oak Street Health’s Englewood clinic brings a new health care option to the South Side neighborhood with positive early returns.

The new 10,000-square-foot clinic in Englewood is nestled in the northwest corner of the Englewood Square shopping center located at 850 W. 63rd St. A spokeswoman for Oak Street Health told the Chicago Defender that 18 employees for the clinic were hired from the surrounding community.

The Englewood clinic marks the 20th healthcare center to open in Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan, including locations already established in Austin, Garfield Park, Bronzeville, and Ashburn neighborhoods. Oak Street asserts it specializes in providing holistic healthcare to communities in need through a variety of consumer convenience practices.

Mike Pykosz, CEO and co-founder of Oak Street Health, said the company offers a “different model” of care and services such as travel assistance, an on-site community room, additional time with physicians,  among other practices that separate it from the competition. He said Oak Street is “extremely proud” of its ability to be a part of the community.

“We need to make sure we are hiring from the community, we need to make sure that we are not just in our clinic but we are out in the community doing outreach events, working with all of the local organizations and supporting them as well,” said Pykosz. “At the end of the day, supporting our patients, caring for our patients, and ensuring that residents who should be our patients are benefiting from us; you can’t do that effectively if you’re not working in the community.”

Pykosz called the health care landscape “complex” in light of the uncertainty facing the Affordable Care Act.

“What we try to stay focused on is providing higher quality care, providing better experiences to our patients, bringing that to our patients regardless of their ability to pay for it; and we know if we do that no matter what happens in the regulatory environment, whatever laws change, if we stay focused on those goals, we will be successful on what we can control,” said Pykosz.

Ald. Toni Foulkes (16th Ward) explained the location of the newest Oak Street Health location at 63rd and Halsted is advantageous to the community. She said in recent years local residents would visit Holy Cross Hospital or St. Bernard Hospital’s emergency room as their location for primary health care. She said she’s continuously stressed the importance of preventive health care.

“[Oak Street Health] is coming at the right place, at the right time,” said Foulkes. “I don’t think we could ever have too many health clinics.”

Foulkes said Oak Street Health is fulfilling one of her campaign promises from her first campaign in 2007 where she called for more health care options “within walking distance.”

Reverend Leslie Sanders of Hope Presbyterian Church was one of the several community stakeholders to attend the press conference. He said he was “excited” about Oak Street’s corporate model and their ability to bring services to the people in need within the greater Englewood community. He said Oak Street is proving itself to be a corporate citizen of the community.

“This is just another part of anchoring and rebuilding this community and taking it to the next level,” said Sanders. “This whole Englewood Square complex is providing opportunities for jobs and to have things in our community to benefit our community

During the grand opening press conference, Dr. Julie Morita, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health and Congressman Danny K. Davis were recognized as honorary guest speakers and offered their remarks in support of the new Oak Street location.

Dr. Morita referenced Healthy Chicago 2.0, a plan launched in 2016 by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), with a directive to ensure all city residents have access to al manner of health care resources. She said the opening of the Oak Street clinic helps improve “health equity”.

“To have partners like Oak Street stepping up to provide services in communities with great need is really remarkable,” said Morita.

Davis, who joked that at his seasoned age he could make use of the clinic, said that the clinic meets a great need.

“I can’t leave without thinking that if we didn’t have Medicare and Medicaid, none of this would really be possible,” said Davis. “And so when I hear people talking about [not] allowing those payment instruments and sources, I become fearful.”      

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