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updated: 1/15/2013 6:51 PM

Round Lake High School-based health center plans aired

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Opening a health center at Round Lake High School may be a year away, but supporters Tuesday provided information and gathered opinions to help determine how some services would be dispensed.

Reaction to the plan was mixed but the turnout of 45 people was considered good for a morning open house at the Round Lake Beach Cultural & Civic Center. A second session is set for 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the civic center off Hook Drive, west of Route 83.

Six entities that comprised an advisory committee pursuing the plan included the Lake County Health Department, which secured a $500,000 federal grant for construction of the facility, and Round Lake Area Unit District 116. Nicasa, Advocate Condell Medical Center, Mano a Mano Family Resource Center and the Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County also participated.

They provided staff and a variety of materials at five "information stations" covering the scope and need for services, planning process and other aspects of the plan that visitors could browse at their own pace. Fact sheets in English and Spanish also were available.

"I'm trying to figure out what is being offered," said Shelley Trump of Round Lake, who has a son in middle school. "I don't like when the school or the community takes the place of the parent."

Others said students are more likely to use the information and preventive services if they are available at school.

As planned, the facility would be 1,505 square feet attached to the school near the front entrance to include three exams rooms, a lab and a counseling room. Operating costs would be $250,000 to $400,000 per year.

Eighty percent of that would be paid through public or private insurance. The other 20 percent is sought from grants or other sources.

"We have the money to build it, but it's dependent on the funding to operate it," said Jeanne Ang, director of primary care services for the Lake County Health Department.

The facility would be the first school-based health center in Lake County. By law it would be required to offer a menu of services on site, including physical exams, basic lab tests, management of chronic conditions, such as asthma, and behavioral health services, such as assessment of substance abuse problems.

Other services, such as providing a prescription or dispensing birth control, family planning or mental health assessments and individual, group and family counseling, could be done on site or be referred to an outside agency.

Those involved in the planning say public opinion will help guide that decision.

"There will be more," opportunities for public comment, Ang said. "These (information) boards will be making a lot of rounds."

Reproductive services are the "most controversial" aspect, according to Karen Smith, health services coordinator for District 116. She reported hearing a mix of both opinions, while some visitors were just gathering information.

"People recognize there is a problem, though," she said. Attendees had the option of answering "yes" or "no" to the question on a provided survey.

Some speakers at a school board meeting Monday objected to contraceptives potentially being available at the school-based health center.

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