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Antioch coalition seeks funding for health-care programs

Updated: March 18, 2012 1:47AM

A new coalition of community leaders is seeking a grant from Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County to improve health-care access for underserved Antioch area residents.

The purpose of the HFNLC, formed in 2006 following the sale of St. Therese Medical Center and Victory Memorial Hospital to Community Health Systems, is to fund local programs that improve the health status of uninsured, underinsured and medically underserved residents.

Antioch officials Monday agreed to provide office space and telephone access for a network nurse to help residents navigate the health-care system. It is one of two pilot programs proposed by Antioch Area Healthcare Accessibility Alliance, a new coalition of village and township officials and representatives from Antioch Rescue Squad, Open Arms Mission Food Pantry, Antioch Senior Center, High School District 117, faith-based organizations and individuals.

The other proposed pilot program is transportation support to provide bus services two days a week from Antioch to free HealthReach medical clinics in Mundelein and Waukegan.

Open Arms Mission, a registered not-for-profit agency in Antioch, is submitting the grant proposal for $52,000 to fund the pilot programs and hire a consultant to help develop a long-term strategy to provide low-income and elderly residents better access to health care.

The program to provide a registered nurse in collaboration with Advocate Healthcare to help local residents navigate the health-care system could be based out of the Antioch Village Hall at no extra cost to residents, said Village Administrator James Keim. The Village Board on Monday approved a resolution supporting the grant proposal and agreed to provide office space and telephone service for the proposed network nurse pilot program.

Keim said there is a large local population of residents who have no access to health care because of a lack of insurance and transportation. “There are some heart-wrenching stories out there. We need to bridge the gaps in health care for residents throughout the township, not just the village,” said Keim.

Trustee Mary Dominiak, who was approached by the foundation last year about health-care needs in Antioch, said the grant proposal is due Feb. 1. The experiences of alliance members who deal with residents most in need have shown her many local residents need help.

“There are no local health-care clinics or hospitals nearby. The closest Lake County Health Department clinic is in Round Lake, but those who are most in need of their services don’t have transportation,” Dominiak said. “We have a limited number of physicians in our area and most of them are not taking new patients. The problems accessing health care are overwhelming for some of our residents, especially the elderly and families with children.”

OAM Director Marytherese Ambacher said the food pantry deals with many underinsured and uninsured residents.

“Many of our clients have no insurance, and even for those who are covered by Medicaid, there are no doctors in this immediate area taking new patients,” she said, adding that many low-income and elderly residents don’t have access to medical specialists and can’t find transportation to the free HealthReach clinics in Waukegan and Mundelein. “It’s a real dilemma for many people.”

She sees the alliance and the initial grant request as taking the first steps in providing better health care for residents. “The alliance is a wonderful example of a local community stepping up to help our residents who do not have access to health care.”

A decision on the grant request will be made by the foundation’s board in May, said Dominiak.

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