Pillars Community Health, the LaGrange-based nonprofit agency providing medical, dental and behavioral health services as well as sexual and domestic violence services to people throughout the near western and southwest suburbs, is expanding access to its services.

In March, Pillars Community Health purchased a largely vacant medical office building at 7234 Ogden Ave. in Riverside, where the agency intends to provide integrated health, dental and behavioral services for those who face barriers, financial and otherwise, when it comes to accessing that kind of care.

“Looking at our demographic data and needs assessment, we saw a lot of unmet needs for physical, oral and behavioral health in towns we serve like Lyons, Riverside, Berwyn, Cicero and Stickney,” said Angela Curran, CEO of Pillars Community Health. 

Pillars Community Health already serves many clients who live in that geographic area, but many must make the trek out to the agency’s primary healthcare offices on Calendar Avenue in LaGrange. That’s not necessarily an easy trip for many of Pillars Community Health’s clients.

The Riverside location will not be replacing any of the agency’s other locations, which include not only the LaGrange offices, but the Fillmore Center and Carl Bartolucci Center in Berwyn, the agency’s behavioral health office in Western Springs, the Jack and Marge Burke Health Center in Willowbrook and its Child and Family Development Center in Hickory Hills.

Instead, the Riverside office is there to supplement the agency’s services to the people in the more than two dozen communities under its umbrella.

“We’re enhancing our capacity,” Curran said. “We’re currently serving people of those [farther east suburbs] in LaGrange, and one of our questions was, ‘Is our facility accessible enough?’ We’re also kind of bursting at the seams in LaGrange.”

Pillars is also exploring ways to expand telehealth services for its clients, especially for those who might not have access to technology at home. The Riverside location, for example, may be somewhere clients can go to use telehealth services either to reach doctors who aren’t onsite or to access special services.

Curran said Pillars Community Health’s leaders are in the process of working out concepts for renovating the office building at 7234 Ogden Ave., a property that also includes a substantial parking lot.

The expectation is that the new integrated healthcare facility will open its door to clients sometime in the spring of 2022.

According to Curran, Pillars Community Health began looking at the Riverside office building last fall. They closed on the $650,000 purchase March 11.

For more than three decades the property was owned by Dr. Tahir Sheikh, who operated it as a successful medical office building until the past several years, during which time the building became largely vacant.

In 2018 after failing to sell the property – Sheikh said he did not receive a single bid when, in a bid of desperation, he put the property up for auction — Sheikh sought to rezone the property in order to convert the building into condominiums.

The Riverside Village Board rebuffed that request, however. At the time, Sheikh placed the property back on the market for $1.5 million, far above its eventual selling price and more in line with what he owed on the mortgage, which in 2018 he estimated at $630,000.

Because Pillar Community Health is a nonprofit organization, the property is eligible to be taken off the tax rolls. According to the Cook County Treasurer’s online database, the property brings in about $45,000 in real estate taxes annually to the village.