State Senator Susan Garrett understands well the needs of the indigent and uninsured residents of Lake County.
As a member of the Illinois General Assembly since 1998, she has focused on quality-of-life issues for Illinois residents: more accessible health care, quality education, well-planned communities, and economic development.
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So when HealthReach, Lake County's only free medical clinic, was faced with decreasing donations and increasing patient needs, she agreed to step in to make a difference.
In November, 2012, Senator Garrett invited the CEOs of the four Lake County hospitals to be part of the solution to HealthReach's financial challenges. Thomas McAfee, president, Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital; Jesse Peterson Hall, president, NorthShore Highland Park Hospital; Barbara Martin, CEO, Vista HealthSystem; and Dominica Tallarico, president, Advocate Condell Medical Center met with Garrett and Sen. Terry Link, as well as HealthReach representatives.
Ernest Vasseur, executive director of the Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County, and his board of directors proposed to match financial donations from the hospitals. This powerful health care leadership team each agreed to make a considerable donation to assure the continued service of HealthReach to the underserved.
In the words of one of the more than 5,000 patients for which HealthReach cares: "HealthReach has changed my life. They exceeded any other agency that I went to for help. HealthReach helped me get the care I needed to get better and get back to work. I thank God for the people of HealthReach who cared about me."
Nancy Bock, HealthReach executive director, said, "We are overwhelmed by the recognition of the value of HealthReach to Lake County. Our cost-cutting measures had been maximized, but the increased cost of providing these critical services continued.
"Every month, 60 new patients come to HealthReach. These donations allow HealthReach to continue to provide care to the most vulnerable. We are so grateful for this outpouring of support for the important work we do."
HealthReach has provided free primary medical and dental care and medications to poor, uninsured Lake County residents since 1992. HealthReach does not receive any state, federal or private insurance reimbursement for the care given by its 43 volunteer physicians and dentists.
The Mundelein and Waukegan clinics are supported by the donations of corporate and private foundations, individual donations and even the donations of our patients when they can afford to help.
For more information on HealthReach, visit www.healthreachcares.org.