History of Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers


Sixteenth Street Community Health Center is proud of our 45  year history of service to the community. We honor the advocates who started the clinic, the volunteers, staff, board members and donors who helped us grow and the multi-ethnic neighborhood and patients who continue to rely on us for care.

1969 | “Health Contact Center” Established

A group of neighborhood residents concerned about the lack of health care for central city residents established the “Health Contact Center” in rented 2nd floor space at the corner of S. 16th Street and Greenfield Avenue.

1971 | H.O.P.E. Inc. is incorporated

On June 8th the Health Organization for Public Ethics or H.O.P.E. Inc. was legally incorporated. Care was provided to several hundred patients under the philosophy that no one would be denied care, regardless of income. By the end of 1971, H.O.P.E Inc. had moved to its present location at 1036 S. 16th Street, again a rented storefront location that had been the Jensen Jewelry store. The Center became known as the 16th Street Clinic.

1974 | Services are Expanded

Services were expanded with support from United Way. Because of its strong emphasis on the importance of adequate nutrition and maintaining health, Sixteenth Street increased its visibility in Milwaukee as a regular contributor to WISN-TV Channel 12’s Health Fair. Sixteenth Street was also a vocal community advocate for the need to have translation services available for Spanish speaking patients at local hospitals.  

1975| A Partnership with Columbia St. Marys

A partnership with St. Mary’s Hospital and use of their residency program was established. This relationship continues today with Columbia St. Mary’s providing substantial hospital support for low-income pregnant women who receive pre-natal care at Sixteenth Street.

1979-80 | Staff Doubles

The Center doubled its size by renting adjacent storefront space. The number of Center staff doubled and the yearly patient load increased to 2,600 people in the medical program and 2,300 receiving the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) nutrition program.

1981| Full time physician & Insurance Systems

The first full-time physician was hired. Systems were set up to accept Medicaid, private insurance and Medicare. The Center’s first sliding fee scale (system based on patient’s ability to pay) was developed for low-income patients without insurance.

1982-84 | First Federal Grant

Sixteenth Street received its first federal grant from the U.S. Public Health Service. With additional assistance from the City of Milwaukee Community Development Agency, local foundations and corporations, the Center was able to purchase the building, renovate the first floor, increase staff and install a computerized medical and billing system. The first bilingual social worker was hired to help with community residents non-medical problems.  

1984 | Cultural Diversity Increases

During the 70’s and 80’s the cultural diversity of the neighborhood increased dramatically. By 1980 Hispanics made up half the population of Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood. The number of exam rooms increased to 12, allowing a second pediatrician and obstetrician gynecologist to be added. The WIC clinic moved to a nearby building to accommodate the expansion of medical services. Total clinic staff reached 40 and the agency budget grew to $1.6 million.

1989-94 | Facility Expansion

The need in the community for primary health care and social services surpassed the available space. A facility expansion was approved by the Board of Directors and completed in 1994. The number of exam rooms increased to 30 and allowed WIC site to move back on-site. ¨

1993 | Many Firsts

A satellite clinic was opened at South Division High School in cooperation with Milwaukee Public Schools and the City of Milwaukee Health Department to provide health services to students. At Sixteenth Street’s main clinic, an HIV/AIDS outreach and case management program was developed, offering free anonymous testing to community residents. The first Annual Celebrity Roast was held.

1995 | Environmental Health Department Formed

A lead poisoning prevention program, a multi-clinic immunization coordination project and a community environmental health assessment – the environmental health project was started. In 1996 the environmental health project & lead project were merged to form Sixteenth Street’s Department of Environmental Health.

1997 | Historic Bank Building Purchased

The Center purchased an historic bank building 1337 S. 16th Street, just two blocks south of the main clinic. The WIC clinic had room to expand and additional space was available for the Environmental Health Department, administrative offices and board of directors meeting room.

1998 | Behavioral Health & Re-development of Valley Begins

Twenty new exam rooms were added in the lower level of the main clinic for a dedicated pediatric center. Office space was converted to the new Behavioral Health Department. The Environmental Health Department received one of only 10 sustainable development challenge grants awarded nationally from the US Environmental Protection Agency, to create a vision for redevelopment for Milwaukee’s Menomonee River Valley.

1999 | Urgent Care Opens

In partnership with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, an Urgent Care Clinic was opened, using Sixteenth Street’s pediatric clinic space during evening and weekend hours. 2000 – The Clinic underwent minor renovations to the top floor of the main clinic to increase space for the growing Behavioral Health Department. The Medical Records Department was also moved and expanded on the first floor. Caroline Kennedy-Schlossberg visited Sixteenth Street on November 3, 2000.

2001 | HIV Becomes a Department

HIV services were expanded to become a Department offering prevention, outreach, testing and treatment. Secretary Thompson honored Sixteenth Street with his first official visit in Wisconsin on May 3, 2001. At that visit, Secretary Thompson said “Community health care centers provide access to health care for millions of Americans who have been locked out of the traditional health care system.

2002 | Patient Care Teams Formed

A project to re-engineer the patient visit resulted in the formation of patient care teams to minimize patient waiting time and maximize provider time with the patient. This included: Prepare for the Expected, Exploit Technology and Ruthlessly Eliminate Needless Work. Open Access scheduling started at the same time, holding 70% of appointment slots open for same-day/next day scheduling.

2003 | 1337 Location Adds Physical Therapy

Additional exam rooms and reception space were added to the lower level of the 1337 facility for on-site mammography and physical therapy services. Main clinic hours were extended to 10 p.m., the HIV program moved out of the main clinic to a storefront outreach site and additional exam room space was carved out to try to accommodate additional patients.

2004 | New Much Needed Programs

The 35th year of operation for Sixteenth Street was marked by the start-up of innovative and critically needed programs. Governor Doyle visited Sixteenth Street in February to announce a new Medicaid benefit that would allow fluoride varnish to be applied to the teeth of toddlers by their pediatrician during a well child check. A hepatitis C clinic was started by Dr. Garcia with about 12 patients in active treatment.

2005 | Parkway Location was Purchased

Sixteenth Street purchased a building at 2906 S. 20th Street to open a second full service health center and consolidate services located at the 2306 S. Kinnickinnic building. When fully operational, the 30,000 square foot building would be home to as many as 15 medical providers who would be able to serve as many as 30,000 new patients.

2006 | Parkway Location Opens its Doors

On April 3rd, Sixteenth Street’s second medical clinic opened its doors with two pediatricians and one family practice provider. By the end of the year, an additional six medical staff and five behavioral health providers will be practicing at this site and will be supported by full time social service and financial counseling personnel.

2007 | Parkway Services Expand

Expansion of health care capacity continued with the hiring of six full-time physicians, a certified nurse midwife, nurse practitioner and part time physician to practice at our Parkway Health Center. Occupational therapy services were added and the Marquette University School of Dentistry began operation, also at Parkway.

2008 | BadgerCare Plus Expanded

The State of Wisconsin expanded eligibility for the BadgerCare Plus program and Sixteenth Street enrollment specialists worked with the State to pilot an on-line enrollment system.  Over the course of the year more than 1,500 people were enrolled at Sixteenth Street.  Many of these new BadgerCare enrollees were single adults who had previously relied on Milwaukee County ’s General Assistance Medical Program – GAMP. The GAMP program ended in 2008.  

2009 | “This is the best work we’ve seen…”

There was a major renovation of the first floor of the Chavez location and capital improvements done at our Parkway Location to expand services for behavioral health patients. Sixteenth Street had our five-year federal review and passed with flying colors.  The reviewers said, “This is the best work we have ever seen in community outreach and integration.”

2010 |

Sixteenth Street received official accreditation by The Joint Commission, for health care quality and safety.  Ten new providers were added to our staff, three family practice physicians, one pediatrician, a certified nurse midwife, three physicians’ assistants and a social worker and psychiatrist for our Behavioral Health Department.

2011 | New Programs Begin!

A team pursued a new quality performance incentive program that relies on use of electronic records called Meaningful Use.  A small satellite clinic opened in the Senior Center at the United Community Center (UCC).Centering Pregnancy, a group model of pre-natal care is offered. A new obesity prevention program, Healthy Choices, has been started.

2012 | Joint Commission Accreditation

The agency was named one of SE Wisconsin’s Top Workplaces by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  In June we passed our first ‘unannounced’ Joint Commission audit. In August, we opened our new Waukesha Community Health Center, a full service clinic that, when fully operational, will have a staff of approximately 40 people.  2012 also saw the implementation of My Health Connection, an electronic portal for our patients.

2013 | Level 3 Patient Centered Medical Home

For the second year in a row, Sixteenth Street was among the Top Workplaces in southeast Wisconsin as reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and we received designation as a Bike Friendly Business by the League of American Bicyclists.  In addition, we received our Level 3 Recognition as a Patient Centered Medical Home from the National Committee on Quality Assurance.

2014 | Waukesha Adds Behavioral Health & AODA

Our Waukesha location was expanded to include behavioral health services in addition to medical, and AODA (Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse/Addiction) were also added. We received recognition as a Patient Centered Medical Home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance and were proud to listed, once again, as one of the top 100 Top Workplaces in SE Wisconsin, as published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

2017 | Dr. Julie Schuller Named President and CEO

On April 1, 2017, Julie Schuller, MD, MPH, MBA, FACP, became President & CEO of the organization. Dr. Schuller launched her career more than 20 years ago as a clinical provider with Sixteenth Street.  She then served as medical director, and most recently, as Executive Vice President & Vice President of Clinical Affairs. Driven by her unwavering commitment to addressing peoples’ health care needs and improving the environment where they live work and play, Dr. Schuller has been instrumental in helping Sixteenth Street earn its reputation as a best practice for delivering quality care through an integrated population health lens.

Stay tuned for whats to come!