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Daily Herald Writer - Low-Income Health Care Gets a Boost

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Location: Addison

Daily Herald Writer - Low-Income Health Care Gets a Boost

By Marni Pyke,

The 2-year-old girl seemed to be in good spirits, but physician Hamid Hussein wanted to take a closer look.

A glance at the toddler's chest showed rapid breathing and respiratory distress.

His quick diagnosis of pneumonia likely saved a life, as did the fact the girl's mother had a place to turn to for help: the ACCESS Martin T. Russo Clinic in Bloomingdale.

The medical office offers subsidized care for low-income patients and individuals on Medicare. It's one of two federally sponsored clinics in DuPage County, and that number is about to grow.

Officials with ACCESS Community Health Network outlined plans Friday to open a third clinic in Addison with help from a $650,000 federal grant.

ACCESS and the free DuPage Community Clinic in Wheaton serve an estimated 35,000 adults in the region without health insurance.

The number of children without medical benefits is projected at 40,000 and the total number of people with inadequate coverage is 100,000, according to the DuPage Federation on Human Services Reform.

"This allows our low-income patients more comprehensive, preventive care," ACCESS Vice President of Strategy Linda Diamond Shapiro said.

U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, who lobbied to get the agency the funds, said providing a safety net for the uninsured makes economic sense. Too often, people without health benefits wait until the last minute to get medical care and end up in emergency rooms.

"This was an easy group to go to bat for," the Wheaton Republican said.

The new clinic should open next spring and possibly could be located by the DuPage County Health Department's satellite office on Lake Street in Addison. ACCESS also has a $950,000 grant earmarked for a building.

It should serve about 8,000 patients. Addison was picked because of its percentage of low-income residents, Diamond Shapiro said.

In addition to Bloomingdale, ACCESS operates a clinic in West Chicago.

The prognosis for the 2-year-old, who was taken to hospital Thursday, looks good, Hussein said, adding that her case was not unusual.

"We get a lot of these every day," the center's medical director said.

"For parents to be able to see a doctor for regular checkups and have a medical home can make the difference between life and death."

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