An annual program that has offered free immunizations and other health-related services for Lake County children since 1993 has run its course.
The Kids 1st Health Fair Aug. 6 at Juarez Middle School in Waukegan will be the last one in the traditional format co-sponsored by the Lake County Health Department. Officials cited the changing health care landscape, and the availability of more providers for families in need, for ending the annual fair.
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"Because of the Affordable Care Act, there are a lot more health care providers who take Medicaid. People have more choices than they had in the past," said Leslie Piotrowski, spokeswoman for the health department.
School-aged children can receive immunizations, screenings and other services at the fair from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Organizers also will help their parents and guardians find alternative health care options.
"We really want people who come to the fair every year to be part of a health care home that will meet their needs in a more comprehensive way," Piotrowski said.
This year's 22nd edition of the fair also will include free physicals and dental screenings. It is sponsored by the health department, the United Way of Lake County and Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.
Services for children up to ninth grade are free for Lake County families that have a gross household income of $44,122 or less.
The 2014 fair also will offer foot and shoe assessments by a Rosalind Franklin University podiatric team, and registered dietitian/nutritionists will discuss healthy eating. Each child will receive a bag containing a healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack from the Northern Illinois Food Bank. School supplies also will be distributed.
This year as in the past, 500 or nurses, lab technicians, health aids, clerical staff, doctors, dentists, residents, corporate employees and bilingual speakers will volunteer their services. The highest health fair attendance was reported in 2009, when 2,785 children received services, compared with 892 last year.
"We believe the most valuable service the fair can provide is to encourage residents to address their entire family's needs by establishing trusted long-term relationships with health care professionals," said Tony Beltran, executive director of the health department.