About Us

Our History

About Us (+ History)

The mission of CommunityHealth is to serve people without essential health care. Our vision is quality health care for all.

CommunityHealth is the largest volunteer-based health center in the nation. We provide primary and specialty care, medications, lab testing, mental health services, and health education at no charge to low-income, uninsured adults in Chicago.


“The success of CommunityHealth is not only the greatest professional satisfaction I’ve experienced, but also a confirmation that many people in our society can still believe in and act on their idealism.”

-Dr. Serafino Garella, Founder

In 1993, Dr. Serafino Garella, an internist at St. Joseph Hospital, saw a need for a place uninsured people could receive health care. He and a group of colleagues went door-to-door, asking people about how they accessed health care. They found that nearly half the people surveyed had no insurance or medical home.

Dismayed by these results and driven by a belief that health care is a fundamental right, Dr. Garella secured funding and a small storefront location. With the help of a few volunteer health care professionals, they began seeing walk-in patients twice a week. Over the years, CommunityHealth grew in scope and size, adding services such as a full-service pharmacy, dental clinic, and over 20 specialties.

Today, we have built a model that brings together volunteers, donors, and community partners, to serve thousands of Chicago’s uninsured adults six days a week in a Patient-Centered Medical Home setting (recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance).