10 Mar Student Health Clinic in Investigative Phase

March 10, 2010

By: DAN MORAN
Source: Lake County News- Sun

A divided Board of Education agreed Monday to partner with the Lake County Health Department and seek grant money to establish a student health clinic at Waukegan High School’s Brookside Avenue campus.

The "school-based health center" concept has been mulled before by the board over the last two years, but a concrete proposal never materialized due to lack of funding. Monday’s action saw the board agreeing to a scope of services that would be included on a grant application.

As seen in 2008 and ’09, board members differed on whether the school should be involved in providing any health services, including such things as family planning and prenatal care.

"I don’t want it done on school property," said board member June Maguire, who was joined by Anita Hanna and Rita Mayfield-Jedkins in voting against each would-be service.

The roster of proposed services approved by a set of 4-3 votes Monday included immunizations; dentistry; treatment of chronic and acute illness; mental health and drug counseling; and tobacco-use consultation and counseling.

But while board member Domingo "Sonny" Garza joined William Anderson, Mark Hawn and Michael Rodriguez in approving most of the concepts, he joined Hanna, Maguire and Mayfield-Jedkins in opposing prenatal services.

Hawn lobbied for prenatal care, drawing out statistics from administrators that there were 90 pregnant students at Waukegan High School during the 2008-09 school year. But Mayfield-Jedkins voiced concern about the physical examinations involved and the liability it might generate.

With similar sentiments being expressed, gynecological services were also ruled out. But in another 4-3 vote, the board did allow family planning services on the list, with a caveat that parental permission would be required.

"Everything we’re doing is with the parents’ permission, or it will not pass," Anderson said at one point.

Health Department spokeswoman Leslie Piotrowski confirmed Tuesday that a partnership with the School Board over a school-based health center has been discussed, but she added that "it is truly in the investigative phase."

Among the steps that have to be taken, according to Piotrowski, are conducting a survey of parental interest, determining a budget, and securing space for an on-site facility. The key hurdle, she added, would be availability of a grant.

Board members said Monday that the project would require no out-of-pocket expense for the district, though it was also mentioned that no space has been identified for a clinic.

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