Chicago Clinic Sees People, Not Dollar Signs


Chicago Tribune columnist Dawn Turner Trice weighs in on proposed Medicaid cuts through the eyes of a clinic in her city that treats patients regardless of their ability to pay. She says it would be devastating to lose those services.

At nearly 7 feet tall, Dr. Dan Ivankovich is the larger-than-life Chicago orthopedic surgeon who sports a black leather cowboy hat, goatee and earrings. He plays a six-string electric guitar in a blues band and is known in those circles as the Right Reverend Doctor D.


Ivankovich is the co-founder of the Chicago-based OnePatient Global Health Initiative. The mission of the health initiative is to treat patients — in Chicago and beyond — who have musculoskeletal heath disorders, regardless of their ability to pay.

I first wrote about Ivankovich in 2010, when he went to Haiti to help out with the earthquake survivors. Last week, I got to spend time with his partner, Karla Carwile, who's the initiative's president and co-founder. She's 5 feet 3 inches tall, and while she doesn't have a cowboy hat, goatee or guitar, she's a powerhouse in her own right.

You understand that when she talks about how potentially devastating the state's proposed $2.7 billion cut to the projected Medicaid budget would be on her patients, 90 percent of whom are indigent and receive Medicaid, and on the nonprofit health initiative itself.

"Medicaid is a four-letter cuss word in the health care industry," said Carwile. "But we have to stay true to our mission, and that is to provide preventive care, outreach education and treatment to underserved populations, the people who need it most.

"By the time people reach us, they're train wrecks and it costs more to care for them and they need more services."

Read Dawn Turner Trice's entire column at the Chicago Tribune.