The Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center opened its doors for a rededication reception Sept. 27 to acknowledge the center's most recent renovations.
As a product of the Cook County Health and Hospitals System and the Rush University Medical Center, the center serves anyone from newborns to unlimited ages as a clinic for the prevention, care and research of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.
Housed in a freestanding building for 14 years, the center uses a "one-stop-shopping" model offering patients all the services they may need in one place. Services include primary and specialty medical care, dental care, social and support services, prevention and education programs, and opportunities to participate in research.
With approximately 150 invited attendees, the building's main lobby was filled with leadership persons including elected officials, past and present donors, provider staff and community partners such as executive directors from community partner agencies, The CORE Foundation Board members, Cook County Commissioners, Illinois Medical District Board members. CORE Center staff members from various departments were also present to greet guests and give tours of the facility.
Among those attending were Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Commissioner John P. Daley (who is also president of CORE Foundation Board), U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, Congressman Danny K. Davis, Illinois Deputy Gov. Cristal Thomas, several physicians (such as Dr. Ram Raju, CEO of the Cook County Health and Hospital System) and others.
"I think it's very exciting, said Associate Director Chet Kelly. "It was very exciting to see the building redone, the renovations that have been done, and obviously the culmination of that effort. A lot of people have been our friends over the years, Congressman Davis, Senator Durbin, who have been our friends and supporters over the years, to be able to kind of relax and celebrate with them is exciting.
In inviting the community in, Kelly said the event is a good chance for rejuvenation, becoming reenergized, and rededicated as the organization moves forward.
According to Anne Carmack, The CORE Center's grants and program development manager, most of the renovations were done to repurpose, rearrange and reconfigure in order to use the space more efficiently. However, the dental clinic on the fourth floor is a completely new feature.
"The nature of the treatment of HIV/AIDS has changed," Carmack said. "Then there's a new focus on testing, getting people into treatment, so if we're going to get more people into treatment by aggressively testing and identifying and linking then the renovation of the clinical areas is important. There's going to be more wear and tear because there's going to be more and more people coming in for services. So that was a part of it as well."
She adds her hopes for the night's event were for more people outside of Cook County to know about The CORE Center and its mission.
As one of the organization's 6,000 patients, Katherine Roach came to the center 16 years ago when she was seven months pregnant with her daughter. Outreach workers came to her door and offered her support. She remembered being fearful as she walked in through the front doors, but claims the center and their work saved her life.
Since then, she has seen the clinic grow with the times. Today, she is a consumer and has been a peer educator for eight years.
"It has definitely made an impact on my life," said Roach. "They make major investments in their consumers, they educate us, they feel the educated consumer is the best consumer, they make major investments in their staff. It's just a wonderful, wonderful place and the CORE Center is very, very necessary. There should more throughout the country, throughout the world."