Recession Makes Access to Quality Healthcare Less Accessible for the Poor

Thousands of poor women on Chicago’s South Side have lost what may have been their single lifeline to decent healthcare with the University of Chicago’s recent announcement that it is closing its storefront Women’s Medical Center on 47th Street near Woodlawn Avenue. This move is the latest in a pullback by the University of Chicago on some of the healthcare services it delivers to the city’s poor and indigent.47001667

According to University of Chicago Medical Center executives, the clinic’s June closing is a victim of the deep recession that has forced the hospital to cut $100 million from its budget.  The Women’s Medical Center, which treated women whose only healthcare insurance is Medicaid, consistently lost money.  The tax-exempt hospital insists that it isn’t hurting the poor, saying that most of the clinic’s patients will be sent to other neighborhood clinics.  The move will let the hospital focus on the more complex illnesses of the patients who utilized the clinic.

“We can’t do everything for everyone in the community,” says John Easton, the medical center’s spokesman.  “Our goal is to use our scarce resources to provide complex care and let our partners in the community provide primary care, which they do very well.”

The clinic’s closure is a highly controversial move.  As a non-profit hospital, the Medical Center is perceived as having a responsibility to give back to its community in exchange for the enormous tax breaks it receives.  It’s a tremendous loss for the women who visited the clinic to keep up with their annual pap smears and mammograms.

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