Access Community Health Network Honors Retiring CEO’s 30-Year Legacy

Promoting Racial Health Equity with Renamed Campus

June 29, 2023

Today, Access Community Health Network (ACCESS) officially renamed its innovative, NIH-funded campus to the ACCESS Donna Thompson Health and Wellness Campus to honor retiring ACCESS CEO Donna Thompson’s legacy in championing racial and ethnic health equity.


For more than 30 years, Donna Thompson has served on the front lines of community health care. As the health system’s CEO since 2004, Donna has driven ACCESS to evolve and reimagine its care delivery model to expand access and deliver comprehensive wraparound services and programs to effectively meet the needs of some of the Chicago area’s most underserved, vulnerable communities.


“Through her steadfast leadership, Donna has led ACCESS to become one of the nation’s largest networks of federally qualified health centers,” said ACCESS Board Chair Thomas P. FitzGibbon. “While this is just one small way we hope to honor Donna and her many tireless years of service, we know that Donna’s impact will be seen through the many generations of patients ACCESS will continue to serve in the decades to come.”


The ACCESS Donna Thompson Health and Wellness Campus is located at 5159 S Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60609 and is comprised of the ACCESS Ashland Family Health Center and the ACCESS Center for Discovery and Learning, and a community resource building, which was most recently used to vaccinate and test thousands of area residents throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This campus has become an anchor in the Englewood/Back of the Yards/New City communities, providing comprehensive primary care and behavioral health services, while also convening community members and health care leaders both locally and nationally to better learn and engage high-risk communities in need.


When Donna first joined ACCESS as its Chief Operating Officer in 1995, she was very familiar with the difficulties that patients faced due to the lack of access to high quality primary and preventive care. As a pediatric nurse at Michael Reese Hospital, which was once Chicago’s largest research and teaching hospital before it closed in 2009, Donna saw firsthand the devastating impact that one’s lack of access to quality health care can have on their quality of life, and ultimately, their lifespan.

Strongly believing in the need to address the total health of ACCESS’ vulnerable patient population, Donna drove the health system to adopt an integrated care team model that  includes embedded behavioral health services and an enhanced focus on care coordination that goes ‘beyond the walls’ while embedding resources that address food, transportation, and other critical social determinants of health.


In 2002, Donna brought together more than 1,400 women, elected officials, and faith leaders from across Illinois to successfully advocate for breast and cervical cancer services, which resulted in dedicated state funding for free and low-cost screenings. Then, on Mother’s Day in 2007, Donna launched ACCESS’ faith-based breast cancer awareness campaign, Pin-A-Sister® /Examínate Comadre®, to educate and reduce health disparities and decrease the number of African-American and Hispanic women who develop breast cancer. Through strategic investments in community partnerships, media outlets, and grassroots outreach, to date the campaign has reached millions of women locally, nationally, and internationally. 


Throughout her career, Donna has received several awards and recognitions including the 2015 National Medical Fellowship Leadership in Healthcare Award, Crain’s 2019 Most Notable Women in Healthcare, 2023 Equal Hope Lifetime Achievement Award, 2023 Bethel New Life Community Changemaker Award, Habilitative System’s 2021 Race and Health Equity Award, and the National Black Nurses Association’s 2021 Notable Nurses and Champions.


About Access Community Health Network (ACCESS)

ACCESS offers patient-centered, preventive, and primary care services to more than 170,000 patients annually throughout Chicago and suburban Cook and DuPage counties. As the nation’s sixth largest network of federally qualified health centers, ACCESS continues to innovate and evolve its care delivery model to address the total health needs of our patients. Recognized as a Patient-Centered Medical Home, ACCESS is also focused on improving our patients’ overall experience. For more information, visit:

Martha Heitman