Lease is up, doors close at free health clinic in Champaign

Lease is up, doors close at free health clinic in Champaign

CHAMPAIGN – Hope Community Health Center, a free clinic in Champaign, has closed.

Its founder and primary physician, Dr. Cris Medrano, said the clinic stopped seeing patients at the end of July when the lease ended on its space at 507 S. Second St., C.

Two other free clinics operating in the same building, the Champaign County Christian Health Center and Avicenna Community Health Center, continue to be open limited hours.

Medrano, a former volunteer for the Christian Health Center, started her own free clinic in October 2008. The clinic offered free medical care to needy and uninsured patients, and served more than 2,000 people in the 22 months it was open.

Medrano said the current economic climate has made it difficult to maintain a not-for-profit venture. She and her husband, Carle hand surgeon Dr. Clifford Johnson, covered the majority of the costs – including the rent.

Medrano also said access to medical care today isn't the same as it was back in 2007, when she saw a great need in Champaign County for more free care for patients who can't pay.

Carle doctors now offer the same charitable assistance for low-income patients that is offered by Carle Foundation Hospital, and both Carle and Christie Clinic doctors are accepting more patients on the state's Medicaid program. Plus, a third free clinic, Avicenna Community Health Center, opened in Champaign this year, she said.

"I think we served our purpose," she added.

Medrano said she plans to remain involved independently in medical outreach efforts to needy patients. She is also employed part-time as a general surgeon at Gibson Area Hospital, Gibson City.