The mobile care unit makes regular health stops around the Lake District

Healthcare professionals on staff at the Rosalind Franklin University Care Coach are not shocked when a patient believes they are in good health and learns they have diabetes or another serious health problem.

Natalie Castillo, mobile clinic manager for Rosalind Franklin, said this happens often. Recently, during a stop at Holy Family Parish in Waukegan, an individual came in and tested with a very high glucose level.

There was a reading in the 500s, which is extremely high, Castillo said. We referred him to the emergency room at the hospital. We caught up with him later to see how he was doing. We gave him a glucometer to test.

The Rosalind Franklin Care Coach makes regularly scheduled stops each month throughout Lake County, focused primarily on low-income areas that test people’s blood pressure, glucose levels, cholesterol levels and more.

Castillo said Care Coach professionals also test for strep throat, flu, COVID-19, urinary tract infections, ear irrigation and more. Those who want to have a cholesterol test must fast without eating for at least 12 hours before the exam.

Inside the care coach are two exam rooms designed to give the patient privacy with a technician or nurse. Between the two rooms there is also a waiting area with a reception desk.

Along with performing basic tests, Castillo said people can receive vaccinations for COVID-19, the flu and other seasonal illnesses. When a medical problem is detected, counseling is offered, referrals are made and, if warranted, a prescription is written.

Nick Castaneda, a nurse who saw patients Thursday at the Waukegan library, said parents often bring in children with earaches. Sometimes cleaning the ears solves the problem. In other cases, a prescription or counseling is fine

We see a lot of ear infections, especially in children, Castaneda said. We write a prescription and tell them to see their primary care physician if they are not better in 24 to 48 hours. We tell them it is very important.

Regularly scheduled stops are made in Waukegan, North Chicago, Zion, the Round Lake area, Highwood and Park City, according to the posted schedule. Generally, visits are made once a month for three to four hours.

Dan Moran, director of communications for Rosalind Franklins, said in an email that the care coach was purchased by Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital in the summer of 2011 and was operational for the university in September of that year.

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Moran said that along with regular health check-up visits, from February to August 2021, more than 2,500 Covid-19 vaccinations targeting hard-to-reach populations were administered.

The Care Coach has (circulated) to 30 locations that include village halls, schools, senior centers, shelters, food pantries, social service agencies, libraries, churches and community centers, Moran said in the email.

Joining health care professionals on visits, community engagement staff let people passing through a care coach know what’s going on inside, as three people did outside the Waukegan Public Library on Thursday.

The Rosalind Franklin University Care Coach makes regular scheduled visits to various locations in Lake County.

Free health screenings, said Francisco Navarro, the driver who doubles as a community outreach worker, as he handed passersby a brochure. We check your blood pressure, glucose level and cholesterol if you have fasted.

Health screenings are part of the Care Coachs mission, but education is also a vital element. Castillo said it’s important for patients to understand what the different test results mean and when to call their primary care doctor.

If the patient doesn’t have a primary care physician, Castillo said counseling shifts to why and how to fix the situation. Lack of insurance or inadequate insurance can be a problem.

We give them information about low-cost clinics, Castillo said. Most of the people we help are on low incomes.

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