Free clinic expected to open in Champaign next month

Free clinic expected to open in Champaign next month

CHAMPAIGN – Dr. Cristina Medrano looks around her small rented space in a dental building and marvels at all the donations that are turning this place into a new free health clinic for the needy.

With the medical and office equipment she needed all donated and the remodeling being done by friends, Medrano now hopes to have this clinic – which she has named Hope Community Health Center – up and running by mid-October.

"It's been like a community project," said Medrano, a surgeon who is starting the clinic to make more medical care available to those who can't pay.

Hope Community Health Center will be staffed by medical volunteers and start out offering primary care and some limited psychiatric care, all free to patients.

Carle Clinic donated all the exam tables and some miscellaneous medical equipment, and CIMRO Quality Health Care Solutions, Champaign, donated all the office equipment – plus a TV and cast-off cart to hold it – Medrano said.

CIMRO CEO Tina Georgy said her not-for-profit company had some extra equipment after it downsized to accommodate the loss of a government contract, and wanted to give it to another nonprofit organization that shared its interest of improving health care.

Medrano and her husband, Carle Clinic hand surgeon Dr. Clifford Johnson, are also making a hefty contribution to this venture by footing the rent and utility costs for a year while Medrano raises money to help cover costs beyond that point.

The Hope Community Health Center is leasing 1,000 square feet on the ground floor of the Dental Circle Building at 507 S. Second St., C – the same building that recently became the new home of another free clinic, the Champaign County Christian Health Center.

That clinic offers free medical care and several other services needed by low-income patients one evening a week.

Medrano's clinic will be open three times a week, initially – Sunday afternoons and Wednesday and Friday evenings – and Medrano said she hopes to recruit enough doctor volunteers to add to those hours.

A former Christian Health Center doctor/volunteer, Medrano said her clinic will operate a bit differently – more like a traditional health center – and won't include such Christian Health Center components as prayer in the waiting room.

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