Free Rogers Park Health Clinic Serves Community Minorities

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A free health clinic located in West Rogers Park provides care to Chicago’s underserved communities.

Operating on the weekends, the Indian American Medical Association Charitable Foundation (IAMACF) (2645 W. Peterson Avenue) offers free primary health care services for Chicago’s underserved communities, said IAMACF’s executive director, Chris Zala, in an article for Medill Reports Chicago.

Founded in 1994 by a group of physicians, the clinic’s objective is to give back to the community, as many of the families that move to the Rogers Park area sometimes do not have adequate economic means to afford necessary health insurance and health care.

“We’re in an area of Chicago which is probably one of the most culturally diverse areas and, at the same time, it consists of members from the immigrant, refugee population. The immigrant population that are here, that are documented, do not have health insurance or are underinsured,” said Zala.

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Pictured, the patient waiting room at IAMACF. Photo courtesy of IAMACF.

IAMCAF has grown from seeing approximately 900 patients in 2006 to roughly 3000 patients in the last several years, according to IAMACF’s website.

In addition to providing free health care, the clinic also fosters an atmosphere of cultural competence, according to Zala.

For example, the clinic’s medical volunteers are sure to be mindful of certain communities’ preference to be seen by a female physician, or that some cultures follow specific dietary practices.

Volunteer translators are also present at IAMACF to assist in any language barriers that might arise between patients and their medical care providers.

Volunteers from Northwestern University, DePaul University and Rush University offer fluency in more than 12 languages. The clinic is also a training site for university medical students.

More than 75 percent of IAMACF’s operational costs are covered by donations, with the rest coming from program grants and miscellaneous donations, according to its website.

Currently, the clinic is only run by volunteers, except for three regular staff members. However, the clinic hopes to expand its staff so it can provide service all seven days of the week.

IAMACF is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. For more information, visit IAMACF’s website.

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