A new mobile clinic that aims to bring health care to people who might otherwise go without was recently unveiled in Woodstock.
The medical supply van, dubbed the “Clinic Without Walls,” is a project of Crystal Lake-based Family Health Partnership Clinic. It was officially launched Sept. 12 at the PADS Day Shelter, 14411 Kishwaukee Valley Road.
The clinic is funded by the Sage Legacy Fund.
“This is our legacy, to do nice things for the people of the community,” said Scott Brown, a member of the Sage Legacy Fund’s board of directors. The legacy fund is an initiative created by four former owners of Sage Products, a longtime fixture in McHenry County manufacturing and philanthropy. Brown said this was the fund’s first project.
The Clinic Without Walls is an expansion of the partnership between FHPC and Pioneer Center’s PADS day program, which serves the homeless population in the county. FHPC operated its first clinic in 2016 out of Willow Creek Church, Crystal Lake, offering direct primary care including exams, lab tests and medication to patients who are homeless. In January, they began to host a weekly clinic at the PADS shelter in Woodstock.
Previously, organizers said, all equipment and medications had to be hauled in weekly on rolling carts, and keeping a full inventory of everything they needed was a challenge. Having the van will allow them to keep dedicated medicine stocked and available.
The people the clinic serves often forego medical care, resulting in more emergency room visits, increased episodes of acute illness and an increase in communicable illnesses, organizers said.
Developing a relationship with the patients and offering continuing care can prevent treatable illnesses from becoming a significant health threat, according to FHPC.
“We are learning that we have to treat them in the moment,” said Julie Franz, a member of the FHPC team which will be using the van to treat patients.
Franz works closely with the homeless population to help them navigate health care. She said many of the people she sees have some form of insurance, but they don’t know how to use it. Franz works with people to help them understand their options and then encourages those in need to visit the free weekly clinic.
After about a year of hosting the clinic, the FHPC team has served about 65 different patients, some of whom visit regularly.
Tom Sitowski had been plagued by health problems that stemmed from high blood pressure, but with checkups at the weekly clinic and medication, he is feeling much better and he is managing his condition.
“I count on them,” Sitowski said. “The three of them work really well together … they treat everyone the same.”
The Clinic Without Walls makes visits to various sites throughout McHenry County to treat patients in need and to provide education at health fairs, food banks and more. The FHPC team will provide the homeless population with exams and treatment including pain medication for basic aches and pains they may have.