DeKalb County Life for April 3, 2017; Racial issues in school board race; Doug loses an old friend; Jessi’s Time Capsule; Craig’s Easter egg hunt; the Jacob Haish cane; Requiem for the YMCA

Jerry Smith wins mayor’s race. 

Is there a race issue in the school board race?

By Barry Schrader, DeKalb County Life Online editor


Attending several pre-election forums I have learned a lot about the candidates for both DeKalb’s city council and school board, plus some behind-the-scenes strategies and machinations.

One thing has become clear in the race for the DeKalb School Board and has barely been touched on. There is no diversity on the school board—hasn’t been since Jessica Lyons served until about six years ago and earlier than that was Tia Robinson (both African-Americans).

Checking my facts with the school district HR administrative assistant Karyn Petersen, I verified what was told to me earlier in the campaign: there are no minorities among the central office administrative staff, and only 10 percent of the teachers are a minority. There are just six minorities at the principal/assistant principal level, and only one dean at the high school is a minority—African-American.

At the same time, DeKalb now has more than half minorities making up its student population. You heard that right: By a fraction, 50.4 percent are minorities and 49.6 percent are white. That information is available on the school district website and the pie chart is displayed below.

This disparity first caught my eye when I read a small article in the Daily Chronicle on March 6, reporting that one of the 10 candidates for the DeKalb school board, Scott Campbell, had dropped out to support three of the minority candidates—Shatoya Black, Valerie Pena-Hernandez, and Twangie Smith. Campbell had issued a statement that said in part: “Electing them will finally bring our Board of Education closer to the demographics of our community, and give a voice to the kids who need it the most. I feel I run on the same values and strategies they do, and am just detracting from their chances of success. They can do it with more credibility than just one more white guy on the school board can, and devote more time to the cause than I can.” He continued, saying “Let’s commit to diversity in our schools, let’s recognize we’re now a majority-minority district and help our kids achieve success, equally, by diversifying our board.” He added that Malta Elementary School has virtually no minority achievement gap, and suggested that those teachers’ efforts be replicated throughout the entire district to close the gaps between white students and minority, special needs and low income students.

If people don’t attend the candidate forums there is little chance they will know who is who and what each person stands for. It is mind-boggling to sit through an evening with all nine school board candidates, four mayoral hopefuls and several city council candidates. And there is also a Kishwaukee College board race this time. One would need a score card just to keep track of the players. The Daily Chronicle Election Central website is helpful, but even there it doesn’t tell the whole story, just the candidates’ answers to questions posed by the newspaper. And for some reason school board candidate Sean Johnson never responded to the questionnaire. I have’t called him to find out why.

In any event, the election Tuesday will be a bellwether of what is to happen when the board must select a new superintendent and high school principal, plus fill other vacancies where needed. There is bound to be close scrutiny of the superintendent selection process and whether minorities are included in the final round. And it is paramount that a diverse search committee is selected, plus the public should meet and question the finalists as a part of that process.

The four minority candidates shown at the University Village forum from left to right in alphabetical order: Shatoya Black, Sean Johnson, Valerie Pena Hernandez, and Twangie Smith. The other candidates’ photos and the responses to the newspaper’s questions can be found on the Chronicle website under Election Central.

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From the Doug-Out: Saying farewell to an old friend

I said goodbye to an old friend the other day. I’ve known him for about 50 years. It was a tough thing to do, but I really had no choice. We had grown apart over the years and there didn’t seem any point in us going on. I can’t say I outgrew him as much as I simply don’t need hm anymore.

Unfortunately, these things happen – sad as they may be.

We first met when I was about 12 years old. My parents introduced us. I was young and impressionable, and the world was still fresh and exciting, full of so much hope and promise. Not only didn’t I know what cynicism was, I had no need for it. I was young and feeling it. (Remember those days?)

My new friend had so much to offer, which I devoured ravenously at times – almost too much, if that’s possible.

But over the years, I guess you could say, we have grown apart and so it’s time for us to part ways.

I am referring, of course, to the World Book Encyclopedia.

My parents got a volume for my sister and me when we were still in school — me, in junior high, and her in elementary school. Of the two of us, I think I used them more than her. They absolutely fascinated me. Some of the sections I don’t know how many times I read over and over, never getting enough of them. I actually used to leaf through the different volumes, pausing at whatever sounded interesting. I learned so many things I can’t begin to describe them all.

Over the years, of course, the books have started showing their wear – just like me. A couple of volumes that were left in the basement accidentally got knocked onto the floor and suffered water damage. Other less-used volumes developed a musty and mildew smell. A couple of others became warped.

Another problem is that some of the information in the books has obviously become dated, like the space program or a list of presidents or anything relating to computers. Any historical items are still fine, just nothing that has happened in the last half century.

The final reason they are no longer needed is that they have simply been replaced by the internet. Remember when you needed books for information? Today, we have Firefox or Safari or whatever else you use. Just a few taps of the finger and just like that you have all the information on just about any subject you can think of, in a matter of seconds – faster, depending on your search engine.

It’s too bad, really. I grew up with books and I love books. I love the looks of them and the way they feel and simply opening up a page, never knowing exactly what you’re going to find.They were like friends to me, always there when you needed them, even when your real life buddies were not.

It’s progress, I guess.

Something I understand, even if I don’t particularly care for it. I, for one, will miss them.

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Sorting through her childhood ‘time capsule’

By Jessi Haish LaRue (

A baby photo from Jessi’s memory boxes.

My husband woke up Saturday morning, groggily stumbled out to the living room, saw me, and then promptly headed right back to bed.

Normally I’d be offended, but considering the mess I’d created, I couldn’t blame him. It was probably quite a sight for him, seeing his 26 year old wife sitting cross-legged in the middle of the floor surrounded by oodles of Barbies, Barbie clothes, and pink plastic doll furniture.

Recently my parents decided that now that I’m a homeowner, it’s time for me to get the rest of my belongings out of their house. All that remained was a slew of boxes from my childhood, covered in cobwebs in the attic. To my surprise, more than 20 boxes and bags labeled with my name came out of the attic that fateful day. Each box contained infinite stories and memories. Each stuffed animal, notebook from school, old newspaper article, and of course, Barbie, had its own tale to tell.

As I spent this weekend sorting through the “time capsule” of my childhood, in an attempt to condense and compile it into something that wouldn’t use up my entire basement, I found myself reminiscing about my past, but also thinking about my future.

As I carefully placed each Barbie, Cabbage Patch Kid and Beanie Baby into a tote, I thought about the possibility of someday sharing these items with children of my own. That’s a fact of life that my husband and I are still discussing, but I did feel a flutter of excitement thinking that I could share these items with my own children, and that maybe they’d find at least some of them as interesting as I once did.

As I read notes from friends and flames from high school, I found myself rolling my eyes and laughing to myself. It’s funny to think how seriously I took myself back in high school, and how everything seemed so important. These days, high school seems like a walk in the park, especially compared to some tasks in adulthood.

And finally, I found so many bits and pieces of my personality in those boxes. Seeing books that I had written for “Young Author” contests, and diaries of stories and ramblings inspired me, as my love of writing has never wavered throughout my life. Finding old copies of my high school paper, the “Spartan Voice,” brought back so many crisp memories of the founding days of my career as a journalist.

In one of my “baby books,” my mom wrote that she thinks my grandmother’s cats may have helped me learn to crawl and walk. I wouldn’t have my own pet cats until about three years ago, but I immediately felt a connection to my furry friends. Another baby book said early on, I loved “kitties, Alan Jackson, and McDonald’s.”

Some things will never change.

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Prairie Ponderings . . .

By Craig Rice (

This Waterman Lions Club Easter egg hunt took place in 2005 on the front lawn of the Waterman Elementary School. Lions club members hid eggs in a windrow of wheat straw. (Craig Rice photo)

In a couple of weeks, children will be searching for Easter eggs. When I was an Easter-egg-hunting child and Easter morning happened to come in early spring, my brother and I searched for candy eggs throughout the house. When Easter morning arrived as the daffodils bloomed, my brother and I searched for eggs in the front yard.

The Easter rabbit in our neck of the woods delivered candy eggs. I think we would have been disappointed if the ones it delivered were hard-boiled hen eggs. Chicken eggs were nothing special to us poultry farmers, but candy eggs—jellybeans and marshmallow eggs—were a treat.

One Easter morning was special: we helped the rabbit get out of a fix. We heard scratching in the basement. In the room that we called “the fruit cellar,” where Mom stored her home-canned peaches and tomatoes, we found the Easter rabbit hopping around, pretty agitated. Somehow, it had knocked open a basement window and the bunny had fallen in.

My brother and I were surprised it wasn’t a large white bunny like pictured on greeting cards. It looked like a run of the mill wild cottontail rabbit. Anyway, we helped it escape so it could continue its rounds. I’m sure some kids were upset that their eggs came late.

As time passed, the Easter bunny quit stopping by our house—the magic disappeared. About that time, Santa was replaced by gifts from our parents. About the same time, we realized we would never fly like Superman…no matter how often we hurled ourselves from the piano bench toward the sofa on the other side of the room. No matter how much we willed it, no matter how much we wished it, no matter how much we prayed for it, the magic was gone.

The Easter bunny reappeared when our two offspring were little. Depending on the weather, our son and daughter found the eggs either inside or outside in the front lawn. It was a competition between them as to who could find the most eggs. In the end, my wife had to reapportion the baskets so each child had the same kinds of candy.

Our children’s Easter egg hunts lasted into their college years. However, we took the hunts to them. At the Urbana-Champaign campus of the University of Illinois, our kids hunted eggs in Hessel Park and in Carle Park. At Bradley University, our kids hunted for them in Laura Bradley Park.

As adults and members of the local Lions Club, we tried to make the magic by organizing large-scale Easter egg hunts. Some of us gathered at Wayne Stryker’s home and boiled eggs and then colored them. On the day of the hunt, Lions hid eggs in a windrow of wheat straw. Kids were called up by age groups to hunt for the eggs.

After Wayne went out of the egg business and retired to Florida, the club started filling plastic eggshells with candy and placing them in plain sight on the school lawn—more like an Easter-egg attack than a hunt.

This year, the Easter egg hunt committee decided it would place empty plastic eggs on the school lawn. After the dash, the kids would line up for plastic bags filled with candy. Frankly, if I were a young kid opening up those eggs, just to find air spilling out of them, I would be disappointed: no magic there.

Must be kind of like that for voters who went hunting for a presidential candidate. Perhaps, in four years, the magic will come again.

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DeKalb historian Steve Bigolin displays an original barbed wire cane created by barbed wire baron Jacob Haish, now on display int he History Room any the DeKalb Public Library. His story about this cane will appear in the next blog on April 24.

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Requiem for the Kishwaukee Family YMCA

A mix of facts and opinions by Barry Schrader(

   As expected, the State Health Facilities & Services Review Board “rubber stamped” the Northwestern-KishHealth plans for its $46 million health and fitness center, where the cyclone fencing it already erected around an open area between the hospital, YMCA, and Greenwood Acres Drive, bordered on the north by Bethany Road.

The state board meeting was a farce. Our comments had to be made in the morning session and confined to two minutes each. So former DeKalb mayor Bessie Chronopoulos and I read our brief statements; no questions were asked by the board, and they proceeded with the rest of their meeting.

  Our comments were undermined by Kish Hospital exec Mike Kokutt who used his time to quote from a letter supposedly written by Kish YMCA CEO Mark Spiegeloff, saying there would be no negative impact on the YMCA. Despite the Board Guidelines that state a person must be present to testify or read a letter, and no one can do it in his absence, the board chair Kathy Olson failed to stop Kokutt or remind him written remarks by someone not present is prohibited. When I protested after the meeting, the board’s legal counsel responded, saying the board chair has the option of doing anything she wants, despite the guidelines.

But the most unbelievable testimony came during the afternoon presentation by KishHealth CEO Kevin Poorten and Bridget Orth, director of Regulatory Planning for Northwestern Memorial Healthcare. After his remarks he turned the mic over to Ms. Orth who proceeded to say ”We have received enthusiastic support from the community and patients for our project. The project was not opposed by any area businesses, and we were pleased to have received an all-positive State agency report.” She continued, “In response to assertions [referring to mine and Bessie Chronopoulos] made during the public comment period regarding the Kishwaukee Family YMCA, as stated by their CEO in the January 3rd Daily Chronicle article, the YMCA has known about our desire for a health and fitness center for years, and they don’t see the project as a threat to their organization.”

Now here comes the most incredulous part of her testimony: Ms. Orth continued: “We have had a long-standing and solid relationship with the Y. OUR FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION TO THEM, INCLUDING CASH AND INKIND, TOTALS OVER $775,000 FOR THE LAST THREE YEARS. We fully expect to continue to partner together to best serve the community.”

If the YMCA wasn’t a private nonprofit agency I would demand to see their books to determine if that statement was true. But the truth will never be known because all their business, and that of the hospital corporation, is conducted in secret under the protection of their nonprofit status. One has to assume that “in-kind” donations in the form of hours charged to dealing with the Y and program help would likely be a majority of that $775,000, but who knows.

Unfortunately we will never be able to track the hospital corporation to see if keeps its word and continues to pour money at that rate into the Y’s coffers. The next three years will tell the tale, but the public will never be allowed to see their financial records.

My first question for the hospital would be: How come you have been able to amass $46 million in profits so you can build this health and physical fitness “palace” when you are supposed to be a not-for-profit corporation under Illinois law?

Then next, how come you had so much money in the bank that you could donate $775,000 to the YMCA over a three-year period, just coincidentally while you were planning this new facility, which will, without a doubt, negatively impact the YMCA’s membership, programs and charitable work? Sure is a good way to hush up the YMCA board.

I could follow that with a question about why they think a health and fitness center to address only physical needs is more important than providing adequate mental health care, both inpatient and otherwise. The struggling Ben Gordon Mental Health Center got some new furniture moved in from their South First Street “living room” day care program, but what about the badly-needed crisis intervention beds where people admitted to the Emergency Room could be monitored until their meds could be adjusted and their family physician and psychiatrist could work with them, instead of being shipped by ambulance way off to Central DuPage Hospital to help Northwestern fill all those behavioral health beds there.

But those questions and other concerns will never be answered and the 708 Community Mental Health Board is powerless to deal with these issues. Then there is the fledgling DeKalb County Mental Health Coordinating Council that holds one or two meetings a year. Judge Robbin Stuckert and 708 board executive director Deanna Cada had good intentions when forming this coalition, but then moved on to other projects.

One bright spot on the horizon is the impending rollout of a Mental Health Court which can handle a small fraction of the mentally ill people who need intervention other than just being jailed for lack of other options. That is something we can look forward to in 2017.

Just for those who like to read transcripts, below are the drafts of the March 14 state board meeting containing the public comments regarding the NM-Kish health and fitness center, then a second (draft) transcript of the actual presentation of the project plans to the State Board and the 7-0 unanimous vote in its favor. Read only if you have an extra hour or so to spend.





Bolingbrook, Illinois 60490

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

10:00 a.m.


KATHY OLSON, Chairwoman







Job No. 126143







JUAN MORADO, JR., General Counsel

JEANNIE MITCHELL, Assistant General Counsel

COURTNEY AVERY, Administrator

NELSON AGBODO, Health Systems Data Manager



JESSE NUSS, Board Intern


Public comments:

  1. MITCHELL: Next group, speaking on Project 16-054, are Barry Schrader, Cathy Schneider, Bessie Chronopoulos, Matt Swanson, and Michael Kokott.
  1. SCHRADER: Should I sign in here?
  2. MITCHELL: Yes, please.

CHAIRWOMAN OLSON: Once you’ve signed in, somebody can start.

  1. AVERY: Barry, you can start.

CHAIRWOMAN OLSON: Please go ahead.

  1. SCHRADER: Start?

CHAIRWOMAN OLSON: Please go ahead.

  1. SCHRADER: My name is Barry Schrader, 511 Roberts Lane, DeKalb, Illinois. I’m here to discuss the proposed health and fitness center being planned by Kishwaukee Hospital, Kishwaukee Health, and Northwestern, 16-054. You’ve gotten a lot of correspondence from me, and you’ve gotten an appeal to the staff’s recommendation, so I won’t repeat that. I would respectfully request that you do send the staff back to the research that they have started but not finished and exercise due diligence in determining the true impact of this proposed physical health and fitness center on our area’s fitness clubs and physical therapy centers which now serve the DeKalb County residents. Even more important is the negative impact this new facility will have on the neighboring Kishwaukee Family YMCA, which is a nonprofit institution serving families and children in the area for 59 years now. Unless the YMCA is compensated in some manner for the horrific impact on its budget and its membership, it will severely curtail their services and programs or end some of their charitable work. I just wanted to point out a few things that they do for the community. They provide swim lessons in the summertime for 200 children who are below the poverty level. They have a before-school program, and they’ve served 12,539 meals during 2016, during the summer, to, again, children who are living at or below the poverty level. They have two sites where they hold something called Camp Power for minority families and low-income children who need that kind of service and cannot afford membership in any health and fitness club or any kind of a summer camp. They reach out to over a thousand seniors, again, with access to their facilities and have 12 senior-focused programs to keep them healthy longer. These are people that could not afford memberships in the YMCA.
  1. AGBODO: Two minutes.
  2. SCHRADER: So that’s what I’m asking you to do, is send the staff back to research this and delay it until at least you can get a full report on the impact on our community by this new facility — which I’m not opposed to it being built. Thank you.

CHAIRWOMAN OLSON: Thank you. Can you pass the mic, please. Please start.

  1. CHRONOPOULOS: Thank you for — my name is Bessie Chronopoulos, and I live in DeKalb, Illinois. Thank you for the opportunity to speak and thank you for your service. Obviously, you are given a great responsibility of a most important task, health care services for our state. I’m a retired teacher of 39 years, former public servant locally for 26 years, community advocate, and a DeKalb resident for many, many years, longer than I care to admit. As a teacher and public servant, I learned about the importance of being sensitive to people’s needs. Certainly, physical needs are a top priority as we are focusing, obviously, on health care, total health care, medical, wellness, mental health care, prevention, education, and other related issues that have to do with the enhancement of people’s total wellness. The DeKalb-Sycamore-Kishwaukee YMCA has been a part of our county community for decades and, as Mr. Schrader has indicated, services a broad variety of people and citizens throughout the community for many, many years, a lot of vitality. You should go by there just about any time of the week and see how much activity goes on. Though a fitness center is a good idea, the negative impact that this proposed center will have on the Y will be hurting its ability to function severely. My question, as a citizen — and this is all very new to me. This is a whole different — in some ways I’m like a fish out of water. But what I see as a citizen is the vast need that we have in our community — and, obviously, other communities, too — for mental health care facilities. And my question is, if there are resources available for a fitness center, why can we not look at services that could service people for mental health care needs? And those are vast and they are impacting our community greatly, very greatly. So perhaps we need to look at prioritizing what our needs are.
  1. AGBODO: Two minutes.
  2. CHRONOPOULOS: Thank you.

CHAIRWOMAN OLSON: Thank you. Next.

  1. SWANSON: Good morning. My name is Matt Swanson. I’m the president of the Laborers, Local 32, and also the president of the DeKalb County Building Trades. I would like to thank the Board for allowing me to speak this morning. The proposed Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Health and Fitness Center will be a welcome attribute to our daily lives, from active children to our aging parents, that will continually give to our community, that will be instrumental in developing healthy lifestyles and reducing the likelihood of hospital visits. It will also bring jobs, good jobs, jobs that pay a living wage with benefits. While it is true that construction jobs are temporary jobs, in construction most jobs are temporary. It is with a series of temporary jobs that a tradesman builds a career. Those same construction jobs will bring economic stimulus to DeKalb County. Local tradesmen purchase goods and services in our community, adding to the tax base. The new wellness center will complement the services of the YMCA. The CEO of the YMCA has stated publicly that the new wellness center is not a threat to their operation. It is for these reasons — the health and wellness, the jobs and economic stimulus they bring to DeKalb County — that we support this project and hope that you will, too. Thank you.

CHAIRWOMAN OLSON: Thank you. Next.

  1. KOKOTT: Good morning. My name is Mike Kokott. I’m an employee of Northwestern Medicine, and I would like to talk as a proponent for the KishHealth Fitness Center and wellness center. I’d like to read excerpts from a statement from Mark Spiegelhoff, who is the CEO of the YMCA in DeKalb, Illinois, that the proposed wellness center, if approved, will be — in the community in which it will be built. “The proposed health and fitness center has the potential to offer additional opportunities to partner. The YMCA and Northwestern Medicine KishHealth have a long-standing and solid relationship, and we fully expect that we will continue to partner together to best serve the community after the center is completed. “The YMCA and KishHealth went through a process from 2011 to 2013 to explore whether a collaborative venture was possible. “Some of the various aspects of the exploration process include: Since the Y was also looking for options to expand their facility, investigated the possibility of moving all or some fitness services into the wellness center, developed a pricing structure for joint membership between the Y and Kish; surveyed the community to understand if there was market demand; conducted multiple site visits and interviews in communities where Y and hospital partnerships existed; conducted numerous administrative meetings to vet out a mutually beneficiary partnership; conducted a joint session of the KishHealth board where Y members attempted to discuss partnership opportunities with their board.” I will quote from his letter: “Ultimately, the YMCA board of directors determined that a collaborative facility with KishHealth System was not in the best interests of the agency,” unquote. We moved back to an internal process to determine what the next steps were to continue to best serve the community. The Kishwaukee Family YMCA and KishHealth System have enjoyed a productive partnership over the years that has benefited the overall community.

A summary of those partnerships over the past years include 90 weeks of summer day camp scholarships; YMCA diabetes prevention program; arthritis aquatics; support of Livestrong; instructors for the diabetes program; CATCH programming, training, and support; Camp Power staffing support; use of the RV for delivery of summer meals program; YMCA food sites support; multiple sclerosis recoup scholarships; Live Healthy DeKalb County; Live Healthy —

  1. AGBODO: Two minutes.
  2. KOKOTT: — Team Challenge, and —

CHAIRWOMAN OLSON: Please conclude.

  1. KOKOTT: Submitted [letter] by Mark Spiegelhoff, CEO of the Kishwaukee Family YMCA. Thank you.


Second Draft of partial transcript of March 14, 2017

Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board held at the Bolingbrook, IL Country Club:


CHAIRWOMAN OLSON: Moving on, H-07, Project 16-054, Kishwaukee Health & Fitness Center. May I have a motion to approve Project 16-054, Kishwaukee Health & Fitness Center, to establish a health and fitness center on the campus of its acute care hospital in DeKalb.


CHAIRWOMAN OLSON: I have a motion. May I have a second, please.


CHAIRWOMAN OLSON: The Applicant will be sworn in, please.

THE COURT REPORTER: Would you raise your right hands, please.

(Three witnesses sworn.)


CHAIRWOMAN OLSON: Mr. Constantino, your report, please.

  1. CONSTANTINO: Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. The Applicants are proposing to construct a two-story health and fitness center on the campus of Kishwaukee Hospital located in DeKalb, Illinois. The total project cost is approximately Transcript of Full Meeting $46.4 million, and the expected completion date of the project is March 31st, 2019. The State Board staff did not have any findings. There was opposition to this project. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman.

CHAIRWOMAN OLSON: Thank you, Michael. Comments for the Board?

  1. POORTEN: Yes. Good afternoon, Madam Chair, members of the Board. I’m Kevin Poorten, president of Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital in DeKalb. With me today are Dr. Kulisz, the chief medical officer for our organization; and Bridget Orth, the director of regulatory planning for Northwestern Memorial HealthCare. We’ll keep our comments brief. We’re excited to be before you today to present our proposed Northwestern Medicine and Kish health and fitness center. Our proposed project will enhance access to preventative health, wellness, and fitness programming for our patients and area residents. Our model is far from a traditional gym but, rather, is a unique blend of health professionals, education, and fitness facilities in a single setting, coordinating care for patients across the whole spectrum of health. As stated in the mission statement for Northwestern, we seek to improve the health of the communities we serve by delivering a broad range of services with sensitivity to the individual needs of our patients and their families. Our role as health care providers must continue to evolve from the traditional model of providing only expensive sick care to offering options for less costly health care. We, like many other hospitals, are shifting our focus to engage consumers before they are acutely ill, utilizing preventative methods that can be helpful in providing care before the patient is admitted to the hospital or the emergency department. This project will allow us to expand beyond caring for people just when they are hurt or sick by taking a proactive role in keeping them well. I’ll now turn the microphone over to Dr. Mike Kulisz, our chief medical officer.
  1. KULISZ: Good afternoon. According to the CDC, nearly half of all Americans have a chronic health condition. Many of these conditions can be prevented or, at a minimum, managed in a way that allows individuals to carry on productive lives. As a physician, I can attest to the fact that medications and periodic appointments are only a small fraction of the total health picture for patients. The choices patients make in what they eat, how active they are, and in their access to support systems and educational resources for their condition all impact their health, quality of life, and overall prognosis. As a health system we recognize that, in order to be a relevant resource to patients and their total health, we have to address their needs beyond traditional doctor-patient interactions. This is where the proposed health and wellness center can have an incredible impact on the lives of so many individuals in our area. Unlike any single resource in our area, the proposed Northwestern Medicine-Kishwaukee Health and Fitness Center will be a comprehensive location where individuals can receive care and guidance from a physician, gain valuable education by attending classes, participate in their treatment plan, and navigate resources with the help of a health coach and safely rehabilitate and exercise with certified professionals. The coordination between the care team and the patients can lead to much greater success. The focus of the programs we will offer will not only help improve the individuals’ overall health status but also help reduce the need for traditional sick care services, decrease admissions and readmissions to the hospital for chronic illness, and improve the health of the communities and patients we serve. We are hopeful for the approval of this project and the positive impact it will have on the health and wellness of our community. I will now turn the microphone over to Bridget Orth.
  1. ORTH: We have received enthusiastic support from the community and patients for our project. The project was not opposed by any area businesses, and we were pleased to have received an all-positive State agency report. In response to assertions made during the public comment period regarding the Kishwaukee Family YMCA, as stated by their CEO, Mark Spiegelhoff, in the January 3rd Daily Chronicle article, the YMCA has known about our desire for a health and fitness center for years, and they don’t see the project as a threat to their organization.

(Mr. Morado left the proceedings.)

  1. ORTH: We have had a long-standing and solid relationship with the Y. Our financial contribution to them, including cash and in kind, totals over $775,000 for the last three years. We fully expect to continue to partner together to best serve the community. As you heard earlier this morning, the Kishwaukee Family YMCA and legacy KishHealth System went through an exhaustive planning process from 2011 to 2013 to explore whether a collaborative venture was possible. The possibility of moving some or all of the fitness center — fitness services at the Y — into the proposed health and fitness center, which included a bridge linking the two facilities, was explored. The community was surveyed to understand if there was a market demand for joint membership, site visits to YMCA and hospital joint ventures in other areas of the country were made, and the extent to which the Kish health and fitness center would affect Y membership was analyzed. In the end, there was a strong desire to keep Y operations on the one campus, and ultimately the Kishwaukee Family YMCA board of directors determined that a collaborative facility with Kishwaukee Hospital was not in the best interests of the Y. The proposed project will be the only medically affiliated fitness center in the area. Studies have shown that 40 to 60 percent of members of medically based fitness centers have never been a member of another fitness center. There may be a small overlap of service with the Y, but like the YMCA, we believe that a healthier community is a stronger community, which is why they did not oppose our project. We welcome any questions the Board has.

CHAIRWOMAN OLSON: Thank you. Questions from Board members? Doctor.

MEMBER GOYAL: Thank you very kindly. My name is Arvind Goyal, and I am a nonvoting ex officio member of the Board. I represent Medicaid. So my questions have to do with a comment in the application that talks about services being available as to charity care and then, also, you talked today and in the application about medically affiliated. Could you explain to us what kind of medically affiliated services you see as providing to the community?

  1. KULISZ: Yes. Thank you, Dr. Goyal. Yes, it’s not a traditional fitness center in the sense that it’s just a place to work out. On-site there will be physicians and physician offices. There will be evaluation of the patients. There will be prescriptions for exercise. So, for example, if someone’s admitted to the hospital with congestive heart failure, as part of the discharge outprocessing, there would be a plan for them to be able to utilize those facilities, both from an educational perspective as well as from a rehabilitation perspective, physical therapy, treadmill, et cetera, as well as a nutritional standpoint. So that’s how we’re integrating the entire programming.

MEMBER GOYAL: So digging more deeply into it, would you be providing cardiac rehab?

  1. KULISZ: Well, we currently provide cardiac rehab in a separate area, but that would be part of the overall process and evaluation of the patient, yes.

MEMBER GOYAL: How about DPP, diabetes prevention programs?

  1. KULISZ: Yes. Yes, that, too.

MEMBER GOYAL: Now, lay that over to the Medicaid population — and I don’t recall what percentage of your population right now is Medicaid, but Medicaid does not cover for those services at this time. So how would you propose Medicaid patients would be served in your facility?

  1. KULISZ: That would still be part of the discharge process of those patients so — that is really part and parcel separate from the actual overall membership, so that would be part of the continuum of care that we would be providing for those patients. Once that treatment is completed, if it is completed, then that would then present whether or not someone would join the fitness center.

MEMBER GOYAL: Thank you very kindly.

  1. POORTEN: If I may add just another comment to that, it’s very important to distinguish that the programs and services that will be offered through the wellness center are going to be made available to the entire public regardless of their ability to pay. That’s separate and distinct, if you will, from the traditional fitness element that’s embodied in the larger plan which Dr. Kulisz was making reference to.

CHAIRWOMAN OLSON: Thank you. Any other questions or comments?

(No response.)

CHAIRWOMAN OLSON: Seeing none, I’ll ask for a roll call vote.

  1. ROATE: Thank you, Madam Chair. Motion made by Mr. Ingram; seconded by Senator Burzynski.

MEMBER BURZYNSKI: I’m going to vote yes. I will tell you I do have some concerns about the impact on the Y. Of course, I know that situation. Mike, though, I think addressed a lot of those in reading some of the excerpts from the administrator, and, certainly, the hospital is going to provide a lot of services that are not available through the Y. And I think the only thing that the Y has to fear is if they don’t upgrade and continue to improve their own services.

  1. POORTEN: Right.

MEMBER BURZYNSKI: And I know you’ve had a great working relationship in the past, so I will vote aye.

  1. ROATE: Thank you. Senator Demuzio.

MEMBER DEMUZIO: Yes. I’m going to be voting yes based on the testimony that I’ve heard today.

  1. ROATE: Thank you. Mr. Ingram.

MEMBER INGRAM: Yes, based on the staff report and the testimony here today.

  1. ROATE: Thank you. Mr. McGlasson.

MEMBER MC GLASSON: Yes, based on reasons previously stated.

  1. ROATE: Thank you. Ms. Murphy.

MEMBER MURPHY: Yes, based on both the report and the testimony.

  1. ROATE: Thank you. Mr. Sewell.

VICE CHAIRMAN SEWELL: Yes, positive staff report.

  1. ROATE: Thank you. Madam Chair.

CHAIRWOMAN OLSON: Yes, based on previous comments.

  1. ROATE: That’s 7 votes in the affirmative. Thank you.

CHAIRWOMAN OLSON: Motion passes. Congratulations to you, as well.

  1. POORTEN: Thank you for your support.


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My appeal and their legal response

By Barry Schrader

From: “Barry Schrader

To: “Avery, Courtney”

Subject: Guidelines violated

Ms. Avery: How do I appeal or ask for the board decision to be withheld for legal review on Application 16-054 since the Northwestern official Kokut violated the Guidelines by reading a letter into the record supposedly from YMCA CEO Spiegelhoff, which had a fake signature [computer generated] and no date by the way. A later email exchange (March 10) between Spiegelhoff and former DeKalb Mayor Bessie Chronopoulos contradicts that letter, saying they will take “no position” in the matter. This had to be a major factor in the Board’s decision to approve the application, being misled by the letter (that should not been allowed to be read and entered into the record of the meeting) indicating they do not oppose the new NWM-KishHealth fitness and health center. See emails/documents attached.

Barry Schrader


Their legal counsel’s response to my complaint:

Date: March 15, 2017 at 3:41:43 PM CDT

Cc: Avery, Courtney

Subject: FW: [External] Fw: Guidelines violated

Mr. Schrader,

Thank you for your email. I appreciate your concern regarding the public participation portion of yesterday’s meeting. As you may know the public participation portion of the meeting is required by the Open Meetings Act. The guidelines were created by and approved by the Board to ensure a efficient system for that participation to take place. The Board Chair retains the discretion to allow exceptions to the guidelines and has made exceptions in the past.

The allegation itself is not a basis to overturn or invalidate the permit under the Administrative Code or Illinois Health Facilities Planning Act.  If you have any other questions or concerns please feel free to contact me.


Juan Morado Jr.

General Counsel and Ethics Officer

Health Facilities and Services Review Board

69 West Washington Street Suite 3500

Chicago, IL 60602

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