The eighth full-time location of Greater Family Health -- which last month changed its name from Greater Elgin Family Care Center -- is planned for Palatine.
The health center would be at 345 W. Northwest Highway, in the Stevens Point Center. It would provide primary care services and add OB-GYN and behavioral health services based on need. The 5,300-square-foot space, vacant since 2016, used to house an obstetrics/oncology clinic.
Greater Family Health is a federally qualified health center, also known as a community health center, meaning it focuses on serving people with incomes less than double the federal poverty level, Robert Tanner, president and CEO of Greater Family Health, told the village zoning board of appeals Tuesday.
The 2021 federal poverty level is $26,500 for a family of four; double that is $53,000 for a family of four.
There are 52 such centers throughout Illinois and Greater Family Health is among the top 10%, Tanner said. "Federally qualified health centers are designed to be the safety net in the country and help relieve the burden" on emergency rooms, he said.
The board recommended approval of the plan Tuesday. The next step is gaining approval from the village council.
Greater Family Health has three locations in Elgin, including one part time, plus sites in Hanover Park, Streamwood, Wheeling, Sycamore, McHenry and DeKalb, which is part time. Altogether it provided services to more than 61,000 patients from more than 545 ZIP codes last year.
The Wheeling location, which opened in 2015, was visited by nearly 1,150 patients from Palatine last year, Tanner said. In fact, Palatine was a close second as a location pick six years ago, he said. "We always had the village of Palatine on our radar."
Greater Family Health would lease and perform a $800,000 renovation of the Palatine space, hoping to open in the first half of 2022, Tanner said.
Hours would be 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. There are no parking concerns with 158 spaces available, which is 48 more than required, village staff planner Lyn Bremanis said.
The clinic would be open to everyone, including those with commercial health insurance, which amount to about 11% of patients, Tanner said.
"We will certainly accept any comer, but we are not necessarily designed to serve that population," he said.
Greater Family Health partners with Northwest Community Healthcare in Arlington Heights, which provides some physicians for the Wheeling clinic.
"It's an excellent program," said Don Houchins, executive director of women's and children's services for Northwest Community Healthcare. "We get a lot of mothers delivering from both Wheeling and Palatine, and we think there is a genuine need for this site, the Palatine location."
Dr. Henry Dominicis, physician director of ambulatory services at Northwest Community Healthcare, agreed. He used to work at the Wheeling location, which he also praised.
"We saw a big change in the care of our community, especially those underserved, and the amount of prenatal care that they received that then resulted in healthier babies, healthier moms," he said.
Palatine is a "medically underserved" area according to the governor's criteria, although not according to federal criteria, Tanner said.
Zoning board member John Pirog said the new medical center "is going to be great for our community," particularly those who currently drive to the Wheeling location.
Chairwoman Jan Wood agreed. "I can only see a physical health, safety and welfare positive impact."