CHAMPAIGN — The name of Frances Nelson will continue to be honored in Champaign County, even if it's not on the outside of a health center building any more, but how?
The local community has a chance to offer suggestions to keep the legacy of Frances Nelson alive at a public meeting set for 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Champaign library, 200 W. Green St., C, in Meeting Room C.
The meeting is being held by the local board working on detaching Frances Nelson Health Center from its parent organization in Decatur, so a local not-for-profit organization can run it.
The new organization is being called Promise Healthcare, and the new name of the health center itself and any branch clinics it may have is up for grabs, says Mark Ballard, head of the transition board.
But the group understands the importance of continuing to honor the Frances Nelson name in the community, Ballard said.
Some ideas to honor her legacy are a statue, naming a room for her, or even retaining her name for the Champaign clinic, he said. All suggestions will be considered.
"We're looking for input from the African-American community on how they'd like to honor Frances Nelson," he said.
According to the transition group, Frances Nelson took orphans into her home in Champaign when African-American children weren't accepted at the Cunningham Children's Home. The Frances Nelson Health Center adopted her name in her honor and her home as its original site.
With the help of a United Way-led community fundraiser, the health center now operates at a larger facility at 819 Bloomington Road, C.
Ballard said negotiations are still under way to acquire the assets of Frances Nelson from the Community Health Improvement Center of Decatur, which has operated Frances Nelson Health Center for the past 11 years.
Frances Nelson Health Center is a federally qualified health center, intended to serve the needy and medically underserved patients in the area, and the transition board negotiating with the Decatur organization intends to maintain that status for the detached clinic in Champaign.
The board also intends to expand access to care by possibly adding branch facilities in medically underserved areas of the county, expanding mental health coverage and boosting the number of primary-care providers.
Any deal reached between the local transition board and the Decatur organization for Frances Nelson must still be improved by the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.