Collaborative Bridges Breaks Ground on West Side Wellness Center

With a promise and passion to transform behavioral health services on the West Side of Chicago, Collaborative Bridges hosted a groundbreaking ceremony where enthusiastic Chicagoans gathered at their facility at 4223 West Lake Street to partake in the celebration. 

Collaborative Bridges Wellness Center in West Garfield Park is a partnership of West Side Chicago safety net hospitals and community mental health agencies designed to ensure that the care of people experiencing mental health and substance use needs is supported after a hospital discharge. 

The collaborative aims to provide wrap-around support via a 360-degree model to ensure that each person who enters its doors feels supported and equipped to heal properly. 

Kerri Brown of C4 said, “This is just a place to get help, so all your needs can be met here. 

“We have community partners that can help at every level, so you never leave the center destabilized. The problem is, “I need help,” but it takes three months to get it, so they don’t want it anymore. This initiative eliminates the wait!” Brown said.  

Collaborative Bridges will serve as a community hub fostering recovery from mental or behavioral health challenges. The center aims to offer Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Community Support Team (CST) capacities, vocational services, pharmacy, primary care and drop-in support to further reduce wait times for community care. The completed Wellness Center will have three large group therapy rooms, 15 smaller therapy rooms, a pharmacy and a physician’s office with four exam rooms.

This initiative is projected to fill 125 jobs and serve 3,000 people in need of mental health and substance abuse support.

Patrick Dombrowski, executive director of Collaborative Bridges, said opening this new location, scheduled to open in September, was no easy feat. 

“This is the third attempt,” Dombrowski said. 

“Though it took time to open the wellness center, at the core, it was worth the wait as “fundamentally, it’s about recognizing the barriers, and together with our partners using our collective experience to come together, to make sure people don’t have to go back to the hospital but people can stabilize in the communities when we think about resources, this space is one of the answers,” Dombrowski said. 

“Patience pays off!” he said with a sigh of relief. 

For many years, there has been a gap in the healthcare system that often prohibits people from getting the immediate care they need. 

Collaborative Bridges understands that, and its goal is to fill the gap so that people can get what they need to survive and thrive while living fulfilling, healthy lives. 

Kristen Hartsaw, HFS Senior Policy Advisor at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, the state Medicaid agency, recognizes the implications of healthcare gaps. 

Hartsaw added,  “Closing gaps in the healthcare system and broadening access to services and working to eliminate those inequities that unfortunately persist particularly historically in underserved areas of our state.”

The groundbreaking ceremony was well attended by changemakers eagerly anticipating the wellness center. 

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Illinois) shared inspiring words of wisdom about the center’s positive impact on the community. Ald. Jason Ervin (28th Ward) also had enlightening words to share, reminding attendees that “When the West Side flourishes, the city of Chicago flourishes in its entirety.”

Chicagoans, regardless of their location, can proudly embrace the change happening in Garfield Park, from new affordable living apartments to reducing disparities and improving behavioral health outcomes through Collaborative Bridges. 

Change is happening, and it is change that will benefit the masses.

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