GALENA, Ill. — With some seats still vacant, members of Jo Daviess County’s Health Board are looking to bring additional services to the county.
Board members met this week to discuss options for a property in Elizabeth. Three lots were purchased in 2017 as part of an effort to create a dental clinic in the county. Approximately $300,000 was diverted from an emergency fund to finance the project.
However, a study revealed the dental clinic would not be financially feasible. Earlier this year, the Jo Daviess County Board, a separate board tasked with the county’s administrative oversight, voted to not re-appoint Ron Lubcke, the president of the health board, citing the handling of the project.
In response to the county board’s decision, five members of the nine-person health board resigned. Since then, county officials have been able to recruit three new members to keep the board operating.
Health Board Member Peg Dittmar said she doesn’t want to give up on the Elizabeth property and believes it could work as an ideal location for new services.
“We do want to be able to utilize that location,” Dittmar said. “It’s centrally located in the county and we have a lot of clients coming from the east side.”
Services offered at the site could include vaccinations, school physicals, foot care and dental.
Dittmar said she is most in favor of bringing dental and mental health services to Jo Daviess County. Those services were identified as most in need during a county health assessment conducted in 2017.
“We are looking to expand health services, not reduce them,” Dittmar said. “These are needs that the whole medical community has not addressed, so we should try to do that.”
Sandra Schleicher, interim administrator for the Jo Daviess County Health Department, said no decisions have been made on what will come to the Elizabeth property. However, a final budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which could include funding for such services, must be submitted by the health board’s next meeting in August.
“If we’re going to be adding more staff or more services, we’ll have to add that to the budget,” Schleicher said. “That’s something we’re working on right now.”
Meanwhile, the board also is still looking to fill three vacant seats. The remaining seats must be filled by two physicians and one dentist.
Dittmar said she and other board members hope they can fill these positions soon in order to have more expertise in bringing new services to the county.
“This is something that we’re excited about,” Dittmar said. “We’re looking forward to a new and improved health department.”