Avicenna provides community health services to uninsured, underinsured

By Abrar Al-Heeti

Since its establishment in 2009, Avicenna Community Health Center, located at 819 Bloomington Rd. in Champaign, has been providing health care to uninsured and underinsured members of the community. The clinic provides services ranging from physical exams to nutritional counseling to health screenings, all with the goal of serving those in the community who lack the otherwise necessary resources.

The idea started when a group of local Muslims sought to provide a solution to the pressing problem of inadequate health care for those without the proper insurance. The clinic is now a registered not-for-profit organization with the state of Illinois.

Physicians, nurses, pharmacists, nutritionists and volunteers make up the team at Avicenna, several of whom are health care professionals from other hospitals and clinics who give their time each week to volunteer.

Hany Youssef is the director of lifestyle management and health services at Avicenna and is ACE certified as a personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and fitness and health specialist.

This service is a component of the preventive services Avicenna also provides to its patients.

“After a physician finishes the physical exam on a patient, one of our team members will discuss the case with the patient from a lifestyle, dieting and workout prospective,” Youssef said. “We give the patient a list of recommendations including when and what to eat and what type of workout program he or she needs to follow to improve his or her health.”

Youssef said he is keen on offering this service to community members who might not otherwise have access to it.

“It is very rewarding when you help and educate people on how to prevent and manage different illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, etc.,” he said.

Lina Al-Chaar is operations manager at the clinic and a senior in LAS. She got involved with Avicenna her freshman year after a former operations manager told her about volunteering.

“After going to an informational session, I learned that the clinic had a great mission statement, and I wanted to help,” she said.

Her duties involve organizing, training and overseeing volunteers and interviewing potential interns. She also assists workers at the clinic and provides the Avicenna directors with updates on the clinic’s operations.

“I have learned more about the sanctity of the doctor-patient experience, the triumphant feeling after a group of dedicated individuals solve a complex problem, and the wonders that unique individuals can accomplish when working towards the same goal,” Al-Chaar said.

Jasmine Nadhimi is a former Avicenna operations volunteer and a recent University graduate from the College of ACES. She and other operations volunteers check patients in and keep the doctors and other volunteers in line with the day’s schedule.

“There are an abundant number of reasons why volunteering is great, but number one for me is the knowledge that I’m making a difference and helping someone keep their health and lead a more satisfying life,” Nadhimi said.

The clinic is open every Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m., but Youssef said it will soon begin operating twice a week instead of once a week.

Avicenna also relocated this past October from its former Second Street location to its new building on Bloomington Road.

“Now, we have a larger facility where we have more rooms to receive more clients, a nice lobby and more staff to help people,” Youssef said.

Abrar can be reached at [email protected]