Bringing Healthcare to Englewood

Dr. Audrey Tanksley, Medical Director, Heartland Alliance Health

What does it take to design a transformative health center that provides care that extends beyond a single visit? There are the obvious indicators like effective equipment and knowledgeable staff, but what’s equally as important is a commitment to promoting overall health and individualized care plans. For Brandy, it means feeling welcomed and comfortable.

“I’ve been to too many doctors that had attitudes and judgments, but not here. Here it’s love. It’s family.”

Brandy and her two daughters were among Heartland Alliance Health’s first participants at the new Englewood Health Center located at the corner of Halsted Street and Garfield Boulevard in Chicago’s South Side.

Brandy and her family live just a few minutes away and had wondered what sort of construction was happening on their block. Instead of another corner store or check cashing facility, they were thrilled to hear their new neighbor was a health center.

“You need a vehicle to do anything in this town. It makes taking care of your business real difficult. Things like school, grocery shopping, you know the day-to-day can be real exhausting when the things you need aren’t in your neighborhood.”

But as it turned out, getting care from the Englewood Health Center was simple. In April, Brandy walked in to the new facility to find out what services were available, and ended up scheduling an appointment for the very next day. The kids were off for spring break, so they were able to receive a regular physical. That was only the beginning. They received much more than they had anticipated.

“We did checkups and got our prescriptions filled. They had a therapist in that day too, so my daughter got to let off some steam – and I did too. It was all so easy. I have to be honest; I was shocked to receive a follow-up call from them the next day. They had our prescriptions ready. They wanted to see if everything was going well. I could feel that they cared.”

That’s exactly what Dr. Audrey Tanksley wants to hear. Heartland Alliance Health’s new medical director expects everyone who visits the health center to get the attention and quality of care that Brandy and her family received.

Brandy and Dr. Tanksley at the Englwood Health Center

“We are going to be the premier. We’re going to be the best to those who haven’t received the best in the past.”

Dr. Tanksley grew up a few miles south of Englewood in the Fernwood neighborhood. She grew up going to a health center near her home, and she understands what it means to have such a lifeline nearby.

“This work is so necessary and fulfilling. Providing community members with experts who can provide real solutions, that sort of impact on the neighborhood is priceless – but only if we do it right.”

Heartland Alliance Health is doing everything it can to achieve those standards. The new center boasts a one-stop shop for services in a neighborhood where many healthcare facilities have vacated. Participants can access in-house lab work, pharmacy services, primary care and mental health services, substance use counseling, insurance assistance, and countless other resources.

But more importantly, Dr. Tanksley wants participants to feel confident using these services. Building on Heartland Alliance’s strengths-based approach, she sees this new center as an opportunity for individuals to take control of their health and their lives.

“I believe in providing people with the tools and supports, so that they can be empowered to manage their health. That requires education, patience, and compassion. I want people to get involved and engaged with their health for the long haul.”

From Brandy’s point of view, the new center is already on the right track. She is excited to learn more about the other services Heartland Alliance can offer her family to help set them up for success.

“Dr. Tanksley listens. I feel like I’ve known her forever, and I know I’m getting the truth about our health from her. It makes me want to see how else I can work with these people to help me succeed. I’ve told everybody to come here – to come join the family.”

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