Black doctors, educators fight eviction efforts by landlord who refuses to fix leaky roofs, remove mold
Dr. Gregory Primus
Dr. Primus is holding an 1 p.m., Saturday, November 11th, at 1301 E. 47th St., to appeal to make his case why he and his tenants should not be evicted and to let supporters know there is a law that allowed him to close the CSO because of the water leakage which endangered the patients and patrons.
Facing a court eviction, African American physicians, educators, and sports directors who have been tenants of Dr. Gregory Primus’ Chicago Center for Sports and Orthopedic Surgery (CS0), are fighting back asking the judge to follow the law and allow them to return to the facility located in a health desert area.
Primus, who is a former Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos football player, has put mega bucks into repairing the facility once occupied by Advocate Medical Center. It has been his dream to provide holistic health care to Black and brown people.
While he has a signed agreement from his landlord, the Blue Star Properties, to repair the leaky roof and remove mold at the 4601 S. Lake Park facility, Dr. Primus, who is an orthopedic surgeon, was forced to close the sports complex portion of the building due to the water leaks. The landlord then moved to evict Primus from the entire complex.
If evicted, more than 20 anti-youth programs, their directors, and the owners of the Premier Urgent Care & OCC-Health Center will no longer have a home.
But Primus isn’t going down without a fight, and neither are some of his tenants like Dr. Michael A. McGee, an emergency room doctor who is also the CEO of the Premier Urgent Care that is housed within the CSO’s Medical Center. “The Premier Urgent Care Health Center is the only all Black-owned comprehensive urgent care” in the city of Chicago, he told the Chicago Crusader.
Saying he has a lab and X-ray facility at the Premier Urgent Care Center, Dr. McGee explained, “A lot of doctors say they are an urgent care, but they just accept walk-ins. They don’t do labs or X-rays in their facilities. We do all of that. We are like a mini-ER.”
Asked his reaction to the Blue Star Properties trying to evict everyone from the complex, Dr. McGee said, “It’s already frustrating. We don’t have the CSO (which contained the sports facility) where we did all kinds of health care procedures.
“We had events with Blue Cross/Blue Shield. We did blood donation drives, and we had health fairs. We had events for students who want to become physicians and nurses. We haven’t been able to do any of those activities,” McGee stated. “It’s frustrating already.
“We have invested a lot of our own money into our medical businesses, and we provide valuable services to the community. We are like a small ER where you can come to us for 80 percent of your emergencies. You can come to us, and we can get you in and out really quickly, and it would be a fraction of the cost you would pay in an ER,” explained Dr. McGee.
The eviction, he said, “would be taking away valuable urgent care services for the community if we are no longer there.”
When asked if he could testify before the judge this Monday, November 13, Dr. McGee said, “Black communities already have health care disparities. They don’t have adequate health care services. If we are no longer there, it’s just going to add more disparities on the South Side of Chicago.
“It would be a travesty if we were no longer there to provide valuable urgent care services to the citizens of Chicago who suffer the most and who have to pay the highest in health care bills by going to other ERs. Most people go to the ER for a cut, an ankle sprain or fracture, a fever or cough, a back pain, but these can be easily treated at an urgent health care at a fraction of the cost,” McGee explained.
Other CSO tenants who are now looking for a new home include Simon McCune who mentors youth; Stewart Thomas, who has a youth baseball team; retired police officer Jennifer Maddox, who heads the Future Ties program and Coach Ernest Radcliffe, with the Show Baseball program—all are looking for a new home for their programs. Radcliffe and Maddox want to go before a judge to let them know how this eviction will hurt their youth mentoring programs and the entire Black community.
A prominent Hyde Park resident, Taye Brown, the athletic director at the Ancona School and a patron of the CSO Multiplex, also spoke out about the negative impact of losing the CSO sports facility.
“For the past three or four years, we have rented gym space from CSO for all of our home games for our fall and winter programming for our athletic teams,” Brown told the Chicago Crusader.
She was referring to the school’s volleyball team, which includes a girls’ team in the fall and boys’ and girls’ basketball teams in the winter, as well as a boys’ spring volleyball team. Brown has scores of athletes, including the teams that play and come to her school along with the parents.
“We are now without a home, and we are scrambling,” Brown told the Chicago Crusader. “It is not convenient, and we are now in a position of scrambling. CSO was great for us because it was right around the corner. Now, we are looking for a new location and would have to take a bus to that site, which would seriously increase our costs.”
When asked what the impact of a possible eviction of the CSO would be to her programs, Brown said, “The impact is immense. It is a big impact to our program and our students. It is a great loss. It’s losing a needed community asset.
“This is the only place that has a state-of-the-art facility, reasonably priced and conveniently located. This is a huge loss for our school community,” said Brown.
With Dr. Primus having to face the judge on Monday, November 13, she was asked if she could testify, what would she tell him. Brown said, “This facility is the only one of its kind in our community. It would be a loss to the community if we lost it.”