History


Primary Care Health Services, Inc. is a private, community-based nonprofit corporation, formed in 1976 as the successor to the Homewood-Brushton Neighborhood Health Center (founded in 1968). Located on Hamilton Avenue in the Homewood community of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the health center was subsequently renamed the "Alma Illery Medical Center" to honor the civic leader, community champion and “doctor of goodwill,” Mrs. Alma Illery, who received an Honorary Doctorate in Humanities from Tuskegee University for her advocacy of racial integration in hospitals and promotion of training minorities for careers in health care.

Today, the Alma Illery Medical Center is the flagship for a countywide system of nine (9) medical, four (4) dental, seven (7) health care for the homeless, and one (1) family support services sites operated by Primary Care Health Services, Inc., to address the unique needs of a multicultural, predominately low-income population. Regardless of our patient’s ability to pay, PCHS is dedicated to providing quality medical and dental services to children and adults, as well as:

-Developing healthcare centers in medically underserved areas
-Ensuring that services are accessible, relevant, and of high quality
-Rendering continuing care to patients by the same clinician

1968
Homewood-Brushton Neighborhood Health Center opened at a time when the Civil Rights movement led to a flurry of free clinics opening around the country in poor neighborhoods.
Robert Bolden was hired as the first Executive Director and Chairman of the Board.

1973
A community group led by Mr. Richard Adams and Mr. Sam Thompson raised $1.8M to fund a more comprehensive health center.

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Mrs. Alma Illery (1953-1972) was a pioneer and civic leader from Pittsburgh’s Hill District who was instrumental in establishing Camp Achievement, a woodsy Fayette County summer outpost for hundreds of inner-city children that operated for more than 50 years. She promoted integration in local hospitals and supported an array of humanitarian efforts. She single-handedly lobbied Congress in 1944 to pass legislation establishing Jan. 5th as George Washington Carver Day, in memory of Tuskegee University's famed black scientist. The University later presented Illery with an honorary doctorate in the field of humanities.

1975
Dr. James Stewart was hired as the first Medical Director
Inaugural Board of Directors were:
Richard Adams, President
Sam Thompson, Vice President
JoAnn Woodson
Nate Smith

1976
Primary Care Health Services, Inc., was established and became a state of PA non-profit organization.

1977
Mr. Wilford A. Payne was hired as the Executive Director.

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Mr. Wilford A. Payne (1945-2016) took the small, struggling Homewood-Brushton health center for the poor in Homewood and built it into the largest network of private clinics in Allegheny County and also helped push both the state and national health center movement. To the thousands of people who received care at one of his clinics, or worked to provide health care to the undeserved over the last four decades, not only in the Pittsburgh region he called home, but just about anywhere else around the United States since the 1970s, he was an “icon,” or “giant,” or “mentor” or “anchor.”

2016
David Hopkins hired as the new Executive Director.