District 225 proposal would take basic health care in-house
Coming soon: a health center at Glenbrook South.
The Glenbrook High Schools District 225 board on Monday heard Associate Superintendent R.J. Gravel outline a proposal for a health center in the school, to be staffed by an outside agency such as NorthShore University Health System, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital or Loyola University Medical Center.
It would be available to students, staff and administration districtwide, with shuttle transportation from Glenbrook North and telehealth solutions for Glenbrook Off Campus students.
"The summary is, we've had some great successes during the pandemic providing on-site health services," Gravel said. "We see tremendous value in continuing to offer some of those services, as well as expanding to other necessary services that ultimately keep our schools healthy and make sure we're keeping our students and staff in school as much as we can."
Gravel said, "depending on the success of this clinic" a similar facility is being pursued starting for the 2023-24 school year at Glenbrook North, whose hosting of 2022 summer school currently makes the timeline for such a project untenable there.
The project is aided by a one-time Community Impact Fund Grant of $250,000 supported by U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky and state Sen. Laura Fine, with available FEMA funds to supplement the estimated $590,000 construction cost of the clinic.
A rendering showed a 10-room facility, plus restroom, across from Glenbrook South's existing nurse's office, accessible near Glenbrook South's main entrance.
If approved at the board's next meeting on May 23, the year-round health center is planned to come online in late September or early October. It's currently uncertain, but some services might be provided before the center's completion.
Bids for the capital project and a request for proposal to a service provider would be extended May 24 and returned to the district by June 7.
Gravel described the health center as a nurse's office that has the ability to diagnose illnesses and help deliver proper treatment without students and staff needing to go to a primary care physician or urgent care facility.
The health center would provide required physical exams for freshmen and transfer students, athletic physicals, required immunizations, COVID testing and vaccination, general health exams and supplemental mental health services. The full roster of services will be available once a provider is determined.
Board member Dr. Marcelo Sztainberg, addressing the pandemic's oft-contentious COVID testing and vaccination issues, said: "We're not trying to indoctrinate anybody, we're not trying to push anything to anyone, it's just simply good health practice to the community."
Parental consent is implicit in the process.
Gravel said about 300 district students lack physicals at the start of the school year, and another 300 come to school without current immunizations. The ability to perform athletic physicals, sometimes tricky to time properly before they expire, also will come in handy, he said.
The contracted health agency would provide a nurse practitioner, a social worker and support staff, and would manage its operations, Gravel said.
With parental consent, students could access it by appointment, walk-in or on a nurse's referral. The proposal said all basic health care services would come at no charge to students, with staff able to use their district group health benefits.
The estimate for the ongoing operation of the health center is an annual $445,536 for salaries and benefits, medical supplies and equipment, and medications and lab tests.
In researching other school-based health centers -- Evanston has had one for 26 years, he said, and a Maine Township District 207 center at Maine East has run 20 years -- Gravel said they have access to state and federal grant monies from agencies such as the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Gravel said other schools offering similar facilities get between 1,300 to 1,400 visits annually. The associate superintendent said District 225 nurses' offices are seeing 100 to 150 visits a day.
In explaining the benefit of a health center as part of what District 225 provides, Gravel rolled out Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
"Our students need to feel safe and secure in their environment, and they need to have certain elements -- food, shelter, water, things of that nature. A big component of that is also making sure they're healthy and making sure that they are available and ready to learn," he said.
"We are just bringing them in-house, in an environment where students are familiar, where they trust their surroundings, where they know that this is a safe place and we're allowing them to maximize their time in the building without having to leave class, which is all within our responsibilities of providing that highly effective education."