Success Stories: Avicenna Community Health Center
Avicenna Community Health Center (ACHC) serves the uninsured and underinsured population in community since 2010. Despite the Affordable Care Act helping many across the nation to gain insurance, there remain an estimated 13,000 Champaign County residents who continue to lack healthcare coverage (IllinoisHealthMatters, 2015). Avicenna is committed to ameliorating health disparities in our community, especially related to chronic disease, through integrated preventative and curative health care provided free of cost.
Additional services that ACHC provides include access to free medication for chronic diseases, nutrition and exercise counseling, social services, and preventative community health screenings. The efforts of the clinic have had a consistent and positive impact on the community. ACHC has provided over 2,500 patient visits since its inception. Without Avicenna, around 30% of first time patients reported that they would have gone to the emergency room (ER) and 56% said they would not have sought care at all. A conservative estimate of what ACHC has saved the community for ER visits alone ranges from $404,000 to $660,000. Without free clinics, uninsured members of community are not typically able to access primary care services.
As a not-for-profit organization, Avicenna relies almost entirely on volunteers to make its services possible. Many of these volunteers are University students, faculty and staff, and healthcare providers from the area hospitals and clinics. Avicenna has taken a systems approach to healthcare delivery. It is the diversity of skills, educational, and cultural backgrounds of the volunteers that lead to ACHC’s collaborative and innovative approach to health care. For example, over half of the volunteers at ACHC speak another language besides English, some of whom are multilingual.
Everyone has a part to play at Avicenna. This academia-community partnership ensures that Avicenna works with the latest ideas, some of which are still in the pipeline. There are medical, nursing and emergency medical technician students that are able to give back to their community while helping to provide care to patients alongside ACHC’s physicians and nurse practitioners. Engineering students have helped ACHC work on creating its very own electronic medical record system soon to be released as AvicennaEMR. Avicenna has created a biomedical technologies group to investigate suitable technologies to serve its patients. Masters of public health students have conducted their practicum and capstone experiences at Avicenna evaluating and pushing forward ACHC’s commitment to cultural competence and increasing access to health information through simple pictorial exercise handouts. Social work students put their classroom learning of evidence based practices into real life practice on ACHC’s social services team. Graduate and undergraduate students from Neuroscience, Human Development and Family Studies, Business, and more put their heads together to contribute to non-profit grants. Last year the Avicenna Grant’s team won Avicenna a $30,000 CVS Health grant!
In addition, in 2015 Avicenna collaborated with graduate students and faculty from UIUC to organize a Focal Point on Local and Global Health Disparities with a multidisciplinary group across campus and the community. Undergraduate students also volunteer on campus through the Avicenna Registered Student Organization (RSO). Each year the Avicenna RSO holds a 5K walk/run for the Urbana-Champaign community as a fundraiser for ACHC and as an effort to promote community health. As Dr. Irfan Ahmad, Lead Founder and President of ACHC, as well as Executive Director for the University of Illinois Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology says, “Avicenna is a platform where we develop a compassionate, digitally-wired next generation healthcare workforce, leaders for the future, ready to undertake the daunting challenge of providing innovative healthcare and promoting wellness in communities around the world.” Learn more at www.avicennahealth.org.