Northwestern Medicine is moving forward with plans to build a $100 million Bronzeville Ambulatory Care Center on the 4800 block of Cottage Grove Avenue.
On Thursday, city and hospital officials announced the 120,000-square-foot facility is expected to serve more than 50,000 patients a year.
Officials said the facility will have an immediate care center, as well as offer primary and sub-specialty care (e.g. pediatrics and women’s health), provided by North West doctors. . There will be an on-site pharmacy and diagnostic services, including CT scans, mammograms and ultrasounds. A cancer center will offer chemotherapy.
There will also be room for community programming and retail space on the ground floor.
Dr. Kimbra Bell Balark, who will serve as the center’s medical director, said during Thursday’s announcement that the new facility is intended to have a “generational impact on the health and well-being” of the community.
Bell Balark is a native of Arkansas, a graduate of the historically Black Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, board-certified internist, fellow of the American College of Physicians, and assistant professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern. His practice focuses particularly on hypertension and diabetes.
She was medical director of Near North Health Corporation’s Denny Community Health Center, 150 E. Huron St., a federally licensed health center, from 2002 to 2008. All patients there were underserved and previously had no access to quality health care, she said.
“As a wife and mother, I can understand the importance of access to quality health care for the whole family unit, and I recognize that the lack of access to quality health care quality – both physical and mental – can destroy the families and communities we live in,” she said. “I am passionate about educating and empowering individuals when it comes to taking charges our health care.”
Although the Bronzeville facility is new, Northwestern Memorial HealthCare CEO Dean M. Harrison noted during the announcement that his health care system has longstanding partnerships with organizations in the area.
Northwestern Medicine and the Near North Health Services Corporation have been clinical partners for 55 years. Then in 1999, when the Near North Komed-Homan Health Center Opened at 4259 S. Berkeley Ave., Northwestern began providing Kenwood patients with access to clinical and medical care, including mammograms, colonoscopies, X-rays, and mental, heart, eye, and diabetes health care.
Since 2014, Northwestern Medicine has also worked in partnership with Bright Star Community Outreach, 333 E. 35th St., a nonprofit community service organization. Through this partnership, Northwestern assists Bright Star’s TURN Center in Bronzeville, which provides counseling and other anti-violence social services, as well as recruitment for healthcare careers.
Harrison added that the NM Scholarship Program, a partnership with Chicago Public Schools and George Westinghouse College Prep, 3223 W. Franklin Blvd., prepares students for health science careers with mentorships, summer programs, distance learning, and prep to the ACT test.
Last August, Northwestern representatives announced the expansion of the program to Kenwood Academy, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave. On Thursday, officials said it must now expand to Daniel Hale Williams Prep High School, 4934 S. Wabash Ave., and Bronzeville Academy Charter School, 4930 S. Cottage Grove Avenue.
In addition to serving tens of thousands of area patients, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday she would need to create about 1,000 temporary construction jobs and 100 permanent health care jobs to staff the facility. Lightfoot said Northwestern is committed to connecting area residents with job opportunities, having hired a recruiting manager to identify candidates on the South and West Sides for permanent positions two years ago.
“This will help ensure that patients in Bronzeville are cared for by an inclusive workforce that reflects the rich diversity of the community and the city as a whole,” Lightfoot said.
Development comes as Cook County Health is moving forward with plans to rebuild Provident Hospital500 E. 51st St., as a new outpatient and inpatient facility. A Michigan company called Insight bought Mercy Hospital for $1 last year and plans to reopen the facility as Insight Hospital and Medical Center Chicago, 2525 S. Michigan Ave.
Aldus. Sophia King (4th) thanked Northwestern for listening to her office and the community, saying they went “beyond the call of duty” to solicit community feedback.
“Northwestern is definitely a welcome addition to the other (new) developments on the Cottage Grove corridor,” King said, referring to the 4400 Grove public-private housing estate, Lillian Marcie Theater performing arts center and TURN counseling center. by BrightStar.
The 4400 Grove mixed-use housing development in particular, alongside its commercial tenants, has won support from the city as part of Lightfoot’s Invest South/West initiative. Through this program and investments like Northwestern’s, King said, “Cottage Grove will once again become a pedestrian-focused, destination-driven corridor.
“People now, thanks to the investments made today, thanks to the businesses and other initiatives that have sprung up over the past two years, can literally walk to buy clothes, to eat, to be entertained – and now they can walk to meet their health care needs.”