Local group in Antioch seeks to improve health care access

The Antioch Area Healthcare Access Alliance’s new parish nurse pilot program may be expanding thanks to a $52,500 grant.

The test program, sponsored by Advocate Health Care and three local churches, allows for part-time parish nurse Gloria Stevens to provide health advice and support, but not hands-on medical care. Stevens, a registered nurse of 30 years, works out of an office at United Methodist Church but spends most of her time helping in area homes. She said she sees about 10 people a week on average, but that number is growing.

“A lot of times people don’t realize they can get service in their home ... I’ve just been meeting a lot of new people and getting the word out that this service is available,” Stevens said. “This is only a part-time job, and I have a feeling that quickly it’ll be full-time.”

Of the grant money from the Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County, $19,500 has been allocated to the parish nurse program.

Pastor Ellen Arthur of St. Stephen Lutheran Church, who heads the program, said she would like to recruit more volunteers and find an efficient way to receive house call referrals from Open Arms Mission and Antioch Rescue Services.

“We want to make that need known and to figure out some way to get a service to that person (in need), so their life is better,” Arthur said.

Most of the grant money, $25,000, will go toward hiring a consultant to help with needs assessments and strategic planning.

The Alliance last week had its first meeting with Millennia Consulting, LLC, a firm which will

help plan a transportation assistance initiative. The remaining grant money will go toward starting the program, which will seek to help citizens get to places of medical care.

Marytherese Ambacher, executive director of Open Arms Mission, is leading efforts to research transportation availability and will form an alliance subcommittee in coming weeks.

The alliance was created last September with a goal of bridging the gap between health care resources available and the community’s knowledge of and access to those resources.

Participating groups include Open Arms Mission, Antioch Senior Center, Antioch Rescue Squad, Antioch-Lake Villa Area High School District 117 and many other faith-based organizations. Government officials, such as village trustee Mary Dominiak, State Rep. JoAnn Osmond and Lake County Board member Linda Pederson, and other citizens also are involved.

Village officials have given the organization free office space and telephone service in village hall. Dominiak said she hopes the group will be successful because of its unique model.

“Our goal is not to reinvent the wheel; our goal is to use the resources of a wide variety of organizations that exist today to work to collaborate and fix this problem,” she said. “I’m not aware of anybody else in Lake County that has taken this approach.”

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