Dist. 225 approves bid for health services provider
Continuing down the road to providing an in-school health center at Glenbrook South, the Glenbrook High Schools District 225 board on June 13 approved a bid for a health services provider.
After interviewing three potential providers on June 6. then focusing on two that presented formal proposals -- NorthShore University HealthSystem and Advocate Aurora Health -- the latter was selected to staff the health center, which has a planned opening date of Oct. 1.
The health center is intended to handle basic health care such as athletic physicals, required immunizations, freshman physicals, COVID-19 testing, general health concerns and supplemental mental health services.
Advocate Aurora, which operates a health center for Maine Township High School District 207 -- which District 225 investigated when considering its own facility, as well as Evanston High's NorthShore model -- came in with an annual budget estimate of $406,176.
Administration asked the board to approve an annual cost not to exceed $430,000, still $15,536 less than the amount budgeted. Advocate Aurora's estimate is based on a midrange price for personnel and costs for such things as laboratory work and immunizations that may vary depending on usage.
The difference between the proposal and the annual cost approved Monday came down to "the salary piece, not knowing exactly what the market is at this moment in time," said Dr. Kim Ptak, the district's director of operations, who helped review the proposals and interview the candidates.
"When comparing the two proposals, the Advocate proposal was right within the budget projection we had. The other proposal was approximately double of Advocate's," said District 225 Associate Superintendent R.J. Gravel, who joined Ptak in the interviews.
A large difference came down to "point of care testing," Gravel said.
"Advocate felt confident that the majority of testing we'd be doing would be point of care, so it would be done on-site and not have to go out to labs," Ptak said.
"Where assumptions that NorthShore made were that about half of the testing would need to go off-site to labs. That was a line item that was significantly higher."
The actual motion, approved by a 6-0 vote of board members, specified a 5-year professional services agreement with Advocate Aurora Healthcare for a first-year annual price not to exceed $430,000, with annual increases based on the Consumer Price Index.
Either party may vacate the agreement without penalty by written notice within 90 days of the new year.
Gravel said once a clinic is established, a district becomes eligible for competitive state grants. He said between donations and grants, District 207 receives about $200,000 annually.
He called this a "zero-fee model" for students, and no primary insurance companies will be billed. Advocate Aurora will bill Medicaid for those enrolled in that program. Liability and malpractice insurance and workman's compensation are included in the annual cost.
Also approved were bids by seven contractors at a combined $565,921 for construction of the health center, more than $24,000 under the amount budgeted when discussed at the May 9 board meeting.
That will be covered by a $250,000 one-time Community Project Funding grant, plus part of the $1.09 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency funds the district received for previously submitted COVID-19 expenses.
"For the next fiscal year -- that's the 2022-23 fiscal year that begins on July 1 -- the entire (first-year) operating cost of the school health center will be covered by unanticipated FEMA revenue," Gravel said.
Construction is planned to start on June 27. The health center will be located near the main entrance of Glenbrook South, across from the existing nurses' office, which will remain intact and staffed. By July 29 only interior finishing work is expected to remain.
"We asked in our interviews, 'Why are you interested,'" Gravel said. "'We know you have a clinic in another school, but why Glenbrook, why do you see this as another opportunity?'
"And they truly believe and support this concept of school health centers. And when we also shared our goal of supporting a healthy school environment, including our staff, they saw that as a novel partnership and something that they wanted to directly get involved in," he said.