Health Center News

Finding Care and Coverage in Chicago

Richard Romanowksi and U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin at Erie Family Health Center
Richard Romanowksi and U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin at Erie Family Health Center

We are on the lookout for stories about how Community Health Centers and the Affordable Care Act are making a difference for people and communities. We stumbled across this one from Erie Family Health Center in Chicago.  Erie Family Health Center has been a trusted provider for Chicagoans of all ages and income levels since 1957.  They serve more than 45,000 medical patients and 9,000 dental patients at 12 centers throughout the city and surrounding suburbs.

One patient is Richard Romanowksi, whose life and health have immeasurably improved by having both coverage and care. Richard had been uninsured for about 25 years.  As a musician and volunteer choir director, he chose flexible work options that allowed him the time to take care of his aging parents. Unfortunately, many of these jobs did not offer health insurance.  During the recession, many of the musical job opportunities dried up and, like millions of other Americans, Richard confronted unemployment as well as the loss of his home.  He came to Erie depressed, unhealthy and struggling with untreated diabetes and high blood pressure. Erie provided him with medical care, education and encouragement to manage his disease.  More importantly, he was also able to sign up for expanded Medicaid.

Today, Richard has a new outlook on life. He can access his medications and specialty services,  such as podiatry through Medicaid, and is proud to be taking charge of his own health.  Recently, he shared his story with U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (IL) who made a stop to visit the health center.

“Because Richard now has seamless access to coordinated primary and specialty care and medications, he is healthier than he was a year ago. As his physician, I can’t begin to tell you what a positive difference health care coverage has made in his life and the lives of so many others,” said Dr. Lee Francis, President & CEO, Erie Family Health Center.

To connect patients with coverage Erie has seven Certified Application Specialists who have helped enroll close to 4,000 patients with insurance coverage through the exchanges and Medicaid expansion.

If your health center has a story to share about connecting patients to insurance and a medical home, please send it to