It all started with Alma

Our History

While the Civil Rights movement gave voice to those seeking access to healthcare services for all people, that conversation continues to be a topic of national debate and contention. From the 1960s when free clinics began to open in underserved neighborhoods around the country, a network of federally funded health care centers set out to provide state-of-the-art health and wellness services to anyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

In 1968 the Homewood-Bruston Neighborhood Health Center opened as one of the first Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in the country. Shortly thereafter, in 1975, a group led by Richard Adams and Sam Thompson raised $1.8 million to create a comprehensive health center housing an administration office, a pharmacy, X-Ray unit, laboratory, referral services, mental health support, and social services. Primary Care Health Services, Inc (PCHS), a private community-based non-profit corporation was later formed in 1976.

In 1977, the Homewood-Bruston Neighborhood Health Center was renamed the Alma Illery Medical Center to honor the civic leader and community champion and has been a cornerstone for East End neighborhoods ever since. Dr. Illery was a leader in advocating for racial integration in hospitals long before fair-employment practice laws and civil-rights protests erupted nationally. She fought tirelessly to eliminate prejudice in the healthcare sector and her legacy lives on daily through the center’s mission and vision.

Also in 1977, Wilford A. Payne took the small, struggling Alma Illery Medical Center “for the poor” and began building it into the largest network of private clinics in Allegheny County. He helped elevate the state and national conversation regarding the health center movement. Mr. Payne was an anchor in promoting access and equity in health care for over four decades in the Pittsburgh region and beyond. Because of his work, thousands of people have received quality health care.

  • 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


Medical Center


Dental Services


Health Care for the
Homeless Sites


Family Support
Servies Site



Today, the Alma Illery Medical Center is the flagship for a countywide system of nine (9) medical, four (2) 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.

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.

Corporate Office



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Office Hours

Monday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Tuesday thru Friday: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM