Rapid Growth from Strong Roots
Esperanza Health Centers, formerly Centro de Salud Esperanza was founded in 2004 to meet the needs of underserved residents of Chicago’s Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods. A group of concerned community members worked with the administration of Saint Anthony Hospital, a community hospital on Chicago’s Southwest Side, to create Esperanza as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) “Look-Alike.”
Saint Anthony Hospital staff was concerned that many local residents used its emergency room for primary care services. This use pattern stressed the hospital’s finances; more importantly, it perpetuated a system of “unhealthy” healthcare in the community.
Families who used only the emergency room—including for routine ailments—never developed the kind of ongoing relationship with a physician that has been shown to lead to good health outcomes. Hospital staff also realized they could not provide needed services such as social work, mental health, prescription drug assistance, and benefits counseling in the urgent care setting.
Esperanza (which means HOPE in Spanish) was the response. The founders saw our health center as offering:
- Hope to community residents who would be served regardless of income or insurance status
- Hope that the community as a whole could live up to its full potential though optimum health and wellness
- Hope that these needs could be met in a patient-centered, culturally sensitive atmosphere
Since our founding, Esperanza Health Centers has experienced dramatic growth while staying true to our community roots. In 2012, we provided more than 31,000 visits to more than 12,000 individuals. Our primary service area now includes: Little Village (South Lawndale), Pilsen (Lower West Side), Brighton Park, Archer Heights, Gage Park, Chicago Lawn, and the suburb of Cicero.
All services are offered regardless of ability to pay, and 32% percent of patients’ fees are determined using a sliding fee scale, making care available to all. The payor mix of our patients demonstrates the need in the community:
- 32 percent are uninsured
- 55 percent are covered by Medicaid
- 3 percent by Medicare
- Only 10 percent have private insurance
More than 50 percent of our Board of Directors receive their own healthcare at Esperanza.
Our work has been recognized with financial support from various distinguished foundations including the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, the Polk Bros. Foundation, the Field Foundation of Illinois, the Chicago Community Trust and the Visiting Nurses Association Foundation.