Wellness House hosts open house at Mile Square

“Why can’t we have this in a Federally Qualified Health Center? Why can’t we?”

That’s the question Robert Winn, MD, director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center, asked himself when he learned that Wellness House was interested in expanding its survivorship programs to Mile Square Health Center. An open house was held last week at the 1220 S. Wood St. facility to showcase some of the more than 40 free programs offered monthly to cancer patients, among them tai chi, a century-old mind and body practice that involves certain postures and gentle movements with mental focus, breathing and relaxation that has been shown to aid cancer patients.

Survivorship cannot be achieved without “amazing supportive programs,” said Susan Hong, MD, director of survivorship at the UI Cancer Center. “This is so important for our patient population because a lot of patients are isolated – they don’t have places to go,” Hong told the more than 60 people in attendance. “It is amazing for me to be able to say, ‘We have these programs available, it’s free, we have them four days a week. And you see their faces light up. Survivorship is not just about surviving your cancer. It’s actually about recovering from everything that cancer does.’

“We are open to everybody, regardless of where you get your cancer care.”

In addition to the tai chi demonstration, attendees were treated to expressive arts as a form of therapy, and they also learned how to make smoothies with organic and readily available ingredients.

Lisa Kolavennu, executive director of Wellness House, said once she met Winn and Henry Taylor, MPA, president and chief executive officer of Mile Square, she knew she wanted to expand the programming from Chicago’s western suburbs to the city. Every person, she said, deserves access to the programs they offer.

“We are creating a sense of community for people, a place where they can connect with others, share their experiences, learn from people, network with one another,” she said. “And it’s all thanks to the support of people who believe in this mission and this partnership.”

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