Inner City Health Center is a Christ-centered healthcare home for underserved individuals where consistent, high quality treatment is provided in an atmosphere of genuine respect. We express our love for Jesus Christ and our compassion for those in need through our deep concern for their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
The Story of Inner City Health Center: 32 Years of Service
Inner City Health Center began as an idea shared by a husband and wife team: Jan Williams, a counselor, and Dr. Bob Williams were already active in medical mission trips as a reflection of their Christian faith, but they felt a sense of needing to do more. They were soon joined by Dr. Duane Claassen, a colleague of Dr. Williams, who had been practicing in a small clinic in rural Mississippi.
Together Jan, Bob, and Duane founded Inner City Health Center in the historic Five Points community in Denver, which had the highest infant mortality rate, lowest income level, and least access to affordable health care in the Denver Metro Area. Inner City Health Center opened its doors to the public on December 5, 1983.
A Unique Approach to Care
From the beginning, Inner City Health Center was different. Foreshadowing modern trends in integrated medicine, the founders sought to care for the whole person by providing Medical, Dental, and Counseling services in one place. Inner City Health Center was one of the earliest providers in the region to recognize the critical need to integrate oral and mental health into medical care.
It took time to put everything in place. Especially in the early years, there was a shortage of volunteers and funds, and for a time we were even considering closing the dental clinic. But, the Inner City Health Center way of operating was destined to succeed. First, the clinic has always been blessed with support from the local community- community leaders, businesspeople, pastors, and other community saw the need for Inner City Health Center and helped it succeed in various ways. Second, from the beginning ICHC has kept costs down by making heavy use of volunteers – from doctors, nurses, and dentists, to IT professionals, to handymen, ICHC has always counted on the support of volunteers to run its operations. Third, the quality of care speaks for itself- patients know they will receive excellent care in an atmosphere of genuine respect and concern for their health and dignity. Word of mouth continues to be how most new patients find out about ICHC.
Challenges and Opportunity
Over time, demand began to outstrip capacity; in the first year of operations from 1983-1984, Inner City Health Center saw just under 2,000 patient visits. Ten years later, ICHC was seeing over 14,000 patient visits. Twenty years later, ICHC was seeing over 20,000 patient visits! In 2009, Inner City Health Center moved to its current home at 3800 York St.
Inner City Health Center recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. Like many non-profits, ICHC was hit hard by the economic recession…but our commitment to providing high-quality, respectful care has not wavered even as patient numbers have grown. In the end, it has always been about the relationship between the clinic, and the patients, who provide as much or more for us as we do them. It has been perhaps best summarized by Dr. Duane Claassen: “I have come to believe in the depths of my soul that all significant healing is relational…in the honesty of the process of our lives interacting, and care being demonstrated, the opportunity exists for change- for good change. We have the opportunity to experience a measure of relief for what ails us as human beings. And that healing can be mutual.”
We’ve recently “realized” a great opportunity by deploying our Mobile Medical Clinic. Take the virtual tour inside: