WHAT MAKES ME MOST PROUD OF FNHC

by Norma Coleman

HELPING THE PEOPLE WE SERVE. Sometimes when speaking with people about Frances Nelson, I’ve found that they have never even heard of it.  But when I tell them what we do and the people we serve they are often times so amazed. They are amazed about how we help people with the very basic needs in life that some of us take for granted, like having a place to live, affording a doctor, dentist or medication. Yeah, all of this makes me most proud of Frances Nelson.

Where do you envision FNHC in the future

I envision FNHC expanding to even more sites. I received a call from a patient once who moved out of state and she asked was there a FN location where she was moving.  I think that was a compliment to the type of service we had provided for her. I envision FNHC being granted to provide additional services not currently being offered here so we can even better serve our communities.

Early Volunteer & Woodstock

by Julian Rappaport

One small piece of history that ties Frances Nelson to the times in which it began: An early volunteer nurse was Lois (Yasgur) Herring, who was employed at Carle. Lois came to Champaign-Urbana with her husband, an African American graduate student. Her family farm in upstate New York was the Yasgur farm that hosted the Woodstock Music Festival. She tragically died in an automobile accident in Champaign in 1977.

Service of the Heart

Alina Paul, MD

Written August 29, 2019 as a letter to the editor to the News Gazette.

The other day I was thinking about the roots of Frances Nelson clinic aka Promise Health Care where I have worked since 2016. The founder Miss Frances Nelson was an African-American woman in the 1940’s who opened her home to African American children who had nowhere to live.

Today nearly 80 years later her efforts have multiplied and expanded to include medical, dental, mental and prenatal services with affordable care to the underserved of Champaign-Urbana Communtiy.

Miss Nelson is an inspiration to us to remind us daily to focus on not what we cannot do but what we can to help alleviate at least part of the suffering of our fellow man.

As on fo the staff members in the clinic I am so honored to be part of her mission – to be part of the solution to the growing needs of our communities where we live.

Let us start by consciously giving our hearts fully into treating every human being as valuable.

I thank God for your faithful service Miss Nelson. May we as individuals in whatever capacity we serve help to keep your legacy alive with spirit of love and genuineness.

Tribute to Frances Friedman

by Catherine Friedman

Perhaps I’m biased, but I believe that Frances Friedman, my mother, was fundamental to the growth and expansion of the Frances Nelson Health Center during its early years.  I think everyone who knew her would agree that as the Center’s Executive Director, my mother was a dynamic and welcoming leader who strengthened and extended the Center’s services.  She wrote grants, pressured politicians, twisted bureaucrat’s arms, built community coalitions, and spoke out to anyone who would listen to round up the funding needed to support the Center’s mission.  She was a leader who truly cared about the community the Frances Nelson served.

Well Wishes on Your 50th From Christie Clinic

Dr. William Pierce, Chief Medical Officer, Christie Clinic

“Christie Clinic congratulates Frances Nelson Health Center/Promise Healthcare as it celebrates its 50th Anniversary! I have been in Champaign-Urbana healthcare and at Christie Clinic for 30+ years. Frances Nelson Health Center/Promise Healthcare has been the rock solid entity that has helped bridge the gap in healthcare in our community. Over the years, Christie Clinic physicians have extended professional services to its patients and financially supported its growth initiatives to improve the health of the community through treatment, prevention and education.  Touring their facilities you will note the Esprit de corps of the staff is remarkable as they compassionately and professionally care for their patients. We wish them continued success!”

What a Journey: A Community coming together to increase access to health care services, 2004-2006

By:  Tammy Lemke, Former President/CEO United Way of Champaign County, 2002-2007

I remember like it was yesterday reviewing the Champaign County Community Needs Assessment and thinking that there must be a solution to meeting our community’s most pressing need, Access to Health Care.  I remember drafting a white paper for the United Way Board outlining the needs and how, we, as the United Way, could make a difference in this area.   I remember the Board saying, “We agree – now what is our next step?”

Of course, the next step was to meet with our community’s health care providers on how to move the needle in providing access to health care, specifically primary care.  We started with a conversation with Andrea Goldberg of Frances Nelson Health Center to see how we could help in supporting their mission.   Her answer seemed so easy – increase the capacity of FNHC to provide services by relocating and expanding the clinic. 

The next step was to reach out to those in the field, Carle Clinic, Christie Clinic, Carle Foundation Hospital and Provena Covenant Medical Center.  All agreed on the need and on a possible solution.  In fact, under the leadership of Cathy Emanuel at Carle Hospital, a strategic thought process was in development that included assisting FNHC in expanding.

Everyone had a similar solution.  Relocate and expand FNHC.  Easy right?  As we know, mobilizing the money to expand and relocate a primary care clinic is not easy.   United Way agreed to take a key role in the project. After months of working through strategies and mobilizing resources with the leadership at Frances Nelson, Carle, Christie and the Community, the current space on Bloomington Road was identified.   Carle Foundation Hospital provided the leadership in securing the facility and Walt Manske was appointed as the construction manager.  Walt was the driving force in ensuring the clinic met the needs of our community now and in the future. 

During the construction phase, the project leadership continued to mobilize resources to furnish the facility and to ensure operational dollars were available to meet the increased staffing costs of an expanded clinic.  There were many early morning meetings at Panera between Andrea Goldberg and me on whether or not this vison would be a realty!  Andrea was key to ensuring the clinic was operationally ready to go and the glue that held her staff together.

The new clinic was dedicated in November 2006 with all key stakeholders and leaders in attendance. 

When community stakeholders come together, great things can happen.   I am so proud to see this wonderful community asset flourishing under the leadership of Promise Healthcare.


Promise Healthcare is dedicated to improving the health of the community through treatment, prevention, and education.  We seek to be the premier healthcare provider for all regardless of ability to pay by exceeding patient expectations and improving the health of our community.

We deliver primary medical, behavioral health, and dental services to the underserved.  Promise Healthcare provides over 44,000 patient visits and cares for over 12,000 patients annually through Frances Nelson, our SmileHealthy dental programs, satellites on Walnut at Rosecrance, the OSF Healthcare Heart of Mary Community Resource Center, the Urbana School Based Health Center and our mobile clinics. www.promisehealth.org