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Nurse practitioner helps revive Rolling Meadows community clinic he went to as a kid

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Natalia Nieves, director of the new Rolling Meadows human services department, left, and nurse practitioner Adam Chavez are behind an effort to bring back a neighborhood health clinic in the East Park Apartments complex.
Courtesy of City of Rolling Meadows

Adam Chavez was 9 years old when he and his family moved from Chicago to a Rolling Meadows apartment complex, where he could visit a neighborhood resource center’s clinic for back-to-school physicals and vaccinations.

Great Recession-era budget cuts put an end to that clinic and many of the other services provided by the resource center, which was operated by the local police department.

Now Chavez — who grew up in Rolling Meadows, put down roots and became a nurse practitioner — is helping bring those health care services back.

Friday formally marked the first day of a one-year contract Chavez signed to provide mental health and wellness assistance to residents referred to him by the city’s new human services department. He’ll do screenings and exams, provide mental health and substance abuse treatment, and be able to prescribe psychiatric medication to those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford such care.

Under the agreement approved by the city council last week, the city will pay Chavez $850 per month and $250 per patient for initial lab work.

“They already have at least five clients they need me to see as patients,” said Chavez, a doctor of nursing practice who runs an office of his own in Arlington Heights and also sees patients at Advocate Medical Group in Elgin.

Natalia Nieves, Rolling Meadows’ former police social services manager who became director of the human services department, has been talking with Chavez about bringing the clinic back for at least two years. The money wasn’t in the budget, until now.

The council in September agreed to hike the city’s home-rule sales tax, from 1% to 1.25%, to generate $750,000 in new revenue annually for the department, which expands on the offerings of the former police department social services outreach division. The city also received a $500,000 operating grant, secured by state Sen. Ann Gillespie, from the state budget.

Nieves and her five-person staff, which includes social workers and a mental health clinician, said they will recommend patients to Chavez who have strong and even debilitating symptoms for which medication would be a need. For those with more complicated health issues, department staff and Chavez will refer patients to other specialists.

Adam Chavez, a Rolling Meadows nurse practitioner, left, will see patients referred to him by the city’s human services department, which is managed by Natalia Nieves.
Courtesy of City of Rolling Meadows

“In my 11 years with the city, I have known that one of the biggest barriers to healing — one of the big gaps — is mental health access to medical and psychiatric support,” Nieves said. “We want to start with mental health because that is the hardest resource to obtain for residents of all ages throughout the city.”

“We have so much post-traumatic stress, so much depression, so much anxiety,” she added. “They really could benefit from that medication and access to psychiatric services.”

The clinic will operate within what is being rebranded as the Rolling Meadows Neighborhood Resource Center, at 2260 Algonquin Parkway in the East Park Apartments complex. The center also hosts immigration clinics, elementary school tutoring, a small library, women’s leadership group, and a food pantry that was visited by 184 people last week, Nieves said.

In many ways it revives the old resource center that disbanded in 2009.

And it’s fitting that Chavez — described by Nieves as a “linguistically appropriate and culturally humble” practitioner — is among those helping bring the center back to life.

“He was once a kid that benefited from the free clinic,” Nieves said. “So it’s very symbolic for him, and very exciting for us to have someone that really understands the community and is a part of this community.”

Rolling Meadows revived Neighborhood Resource Center is located in the East Park Apartments complex.
Courtesy of City of Rolling Meadows

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