Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) has signed a lease to open a Blue Door Neighborhood Center sm (BDNC) in South Lawndale’s Little Village community on Chicago’s West Side. The aim of the center is to help improve the health and wellness of residents, as well as support the overall development of opportunities for those living outside of downtown Chicago.
The center will become BCBSIL’s third Blue Door Neighborhood Center. The first center opened in April 2019 in Pullman and a second center, one combined with employee workspace, is expected to open this summer in Morgan Park.
“We’re expanding our reach on a hyperlocal level to meet people where they are,” said Steve Hamman, president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. “By going into neighborhoods, we’re working to address issues that directly impact the health and wellness of all residents – not just our members. We’re looking to improve public health in a way that reflects our longstanding commitment to our local communities.”
The facility will offer services for people whether or not they are a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois member. Programming will include low-impact fitness, health literacy, and classes on topics such as managing diabetes, behavioral health and healthy eating. It will also offer education on how to better use health insurance and connect people to other community resources, as well as feature a meeting room that can be reserved by non-profit organizations that have missions that align with the goals of the Blue Door Neighborhood Center.
The first Blue Door Neighborhood Center, in Pullman, will celebrate its first anniversary on April 27. To date, the center has had nearly 3,500 unique visitors – many of them drawn in by the programming such as Zumba, Bingo for Seniors, and appointments with a health educator.
“The reception from the community has been phenomenal,” said Laron Taylor, director of the Blue Door Neighborhood Center. “Our model is to learn and adapt and we use the feedback from our visitors to introduce programs and services that are most impactful for the people we serve. We’ll do the same in South Lawndale, to customize our offerings to meet the needs of the community.”
BCBSIL’s West Side center will be about 9,000 square feet at 2551 W. Cermak and is scheduled to open this fall.