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updated: 12/18/2012 10:57 PM

Lake Co. Health Dept. awards grant for school-based health center

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Lake County Health Department

The Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center (LCHD/CHC) has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to construct a school-based health center (SBHC) at Round Lake Senior High School that would provide comprehensive primary care and behavioral health care to the approximately 2,000 students of Round Lake Senior High School, as requested and with parental/legal guardian consent.

Round Lake Senior High School's SBHC would be the first in Lake County and one of 59 in the state. A collaborative effort between the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center, Round Lake Area Schools District 116 and area health care and social service providers, including Advocate Condell Medical Center, Vista Health System, Mano a Mano Family Resource Center, and Nicasa, it will offer primary and preventive health care services, immunizations, physicals, and disease management for students, especially those with chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes, as requested and with parental/legal guardian consent.

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The full menu of services will be determined with input from the community. Forums and information sessions are planned for January, and parents, students, staff, and Round Lake Area community members also will have an opportunity to comment through surveys, email and District 116's website.

"The SBHC will place health care where the students are, improving access to care," said Irene Pierce, Executive Director of the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center. "The staff will support students by providing school and sports physicals, acute care, chronic disease management for conditions like asthma, and a safe place to talk about sensitive issues such as depression or family problems. School-based centers historically have helped children stay in school by identifying and addressing health problems that may intervene in the learning process."

The grant was part of $75 million awarded to about 150 organizations nationally for school-based health center construction. Projects must be completed by December 2014. The SBHC will be built as part of a larger construction initiative at the high school. It will not occupy existing classroom space. District 116 will own the newly constructed space and lease it to the health care provider, which will be responsible for staffing and operational costs. The Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center will be the primary health care provider, in collaboration with local hospitals and social service agencies.

"We are thrilled to be able to move forward with plans for a school-based health center," said Dr. Constance Collins, Superintendent of Round Lake Area Schools District 116. "Our next step is to hear from our students, parents, staff, and community members about how this center can best serve needs. We want to gather as much input as possible to make the most informed decision on behalf of our students, parents, staff, and the community."

There are several ways to receive more information or ask questions, including:

• Attend an issues-oriented information session at 10-11:30 am on Jan. 15, or 7-8:30 pm on Jan. 17, at the Round Lake Civic Center;

• Visit rlas-116.org and select "community link" for FAQS. Questions also may be submitted via the website;

• Complete and submit a survey, which will be available in the high school's main office after the January information sessions through the end of February.

The Round Lake Area School-Based Health Center Advisory Committee will collect community input through February and then make a final recommendation on services to Superintendent Collins and the Round Lake Area Schools District 116 Board of Education.

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