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m a k e a di ffe r e nce | local treasure

Clinic founders Dr. Charles Martinez and George Matezos with CARES awards

saving lives Old Irving Park Community Clinic By L aur a Tiebert

is a health center opened in 2007 by the late George Maltezos of Evanston and Dr. Charles Martinez of Chicago. Its purpose? Making health care available to those who need it the most and who can least afford it. Today, the clinic is a bustling, 4,000-square-foot office that saw more than 4,000 patients last year. But even free care costs something—to keep the clinic running they rely on donations and volunteers. Says Maltezos’ widow, Naja, “We calculated that there are more than 30 people who would not be alive today if they hadn’t come through our doors.” These results come from providing free primary health care in a neighborhood where many had lost their jobs, and along with it, health insurance. “Depression and anxiety were two of the issues we saw, and both related to being unemployed,” says Maltezos. “That’s one reason my husband (a mental health counselor) was concerned about the lack of free primary health care. He came out of retirement to do that with his longtime friend Charles, who became medical director.”

Old Irving Park Community Clinic

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Uninsured and underserved patients receive not only free doctor’s care, but also free lab work and medicine. The clinic finds labs and pharmaceutical companies willing to discount or donate services and medicine. Medical specialists donate their time, so that, for example, the clinic can provide care from cardiologists and free stress tests. The clinic has also created partnerships with institutional health care providers and local businesses. The clinic is located on the northwest side, with large Hispanic and Polish communities, but also draws patients from the suburbs. As an appointment-only clinic, patients can avoid the possibility of standing in line all day and still being turned away, an unfortunate situation that sometimes takes place at other facilities, Maltezos says. “Most people have not been to a doctor for many years,” says Maltezos, but there are happy endings. “Many of our patients come back and volunteer when they become employed, or they send a check.” How can you help? See page 90 for ideas on how to donate or volunteer at the clinic.

photos courtesy of old irving park community clinic

Dr. Charles Martinez in consultation with a patient

makeitbetter.net

11/6/12 6:54 PM

Make It Better December 2012: Better Gifts  

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