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Federally Qualified Healthcare Center
County-wide health clinic planned for Julian Thomas Elementary

RACINE — In the not-too-distant future, Julian Thomas Elementary School is set to go beyond educating students, as home to a new health clinic for low-income residents.

At a Wednesday press conference, Mayor Cory Mason said that early in his tenure, Public Health Administrator Dottie Kay Bowersox pointed out that the City of Racine does not have a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center.

Given the city’s size and poverty rate, she thought the city could really use one.

“We’re the biggest city in Wisconsin that doesn’t have one,” Mason said. “One of the biggest in the Midwest that doesn’t have one.”

Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers provide a range of health care services on a sliding fee scale for low-income families on Medicare, Medicaid or who cannot afford their insurance deductible.

New federal health care center could come to Racine

RACINE — The City of Racine and Racine County are collaborating in an effort to bring a federally qualified healthcare center to the city that would provide services to residents, particularly those of low income.

On Wednesday, officials from the city, Racine County, Racine Unified School District and other partners announced that they are teaming up to open a health clinic — with or without a FQHC designation — at Julian Thomas elementary school, 930 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

“To be able to provide health care, not only to the Julian Thomas community but to the Lincoln King Neighborhood and the broader Racine neighborhood is really a wonderful thing to be able to announce today,” Mason said.

Why Julian Thomas?

During her research for the FQHC application, Bowersox looked at factors such as population, the number of people on Medicaid, the number of children receiving free lunches and other services and found that the 53403 and 53404 zip codes were the areas with the most need.

Julian Thomas is set to be Unified’s second community school, which offer programs including school-based mental health services, extended learning programs and programs for families and adults in the school’s immediate neighborhood. Given Julian Thomas’ location, Dr. Eric Gallien said he thought the school would be a good place for the clinic.

“I know that this clinic is going to provide a need for our school community, our families, the broader community, that is really needed,” Gallien said. “To provide health care services that otherwise may not be provided for these families is going to be provided right here.”

Other entities, such as the county, jumped on board. While the clinic will be based in Racine, residents from throughout Racine County would be able to seek treatment there.

“The county is only as strong as its weakest link and if we have under-insured or individuals who don’t have insurance at all or if we have neighborhoods, whether its in the City of Racine or the City of Burlington, who have factions of people who need quality care and there’s no access for them, it falls back on the county,” said County Executive Jonathan Delagrave. “A lot of people here are working and they’re working for $9, $10, $11 (per hour) and they don’t have access to quality insurance. This is going to help mightily.”

Julian Thomas is just down the street from Health Care Network, 904 State St., which plans to relocate to 500 Wisconsin Ave. HCN Executive Director Alison Sergio said she joined the committee to open the clinic because it would be able to help people HCN cannot.

HCN can only provide services to people who are both low income and uninsured — it cannot treat someone who is uninsured but has an income too high, or has Medicare or Medicaid or is insured but their deductible is too high or the insurance only covers emergencies, not primary care.

“The FQHC is the perfect solution for that because we’re able to partner and have clients go back and forth or be referred from one to the other,” Sergio said. “Whichever is more appropriate for care.”

In addition to primary care, the plan is for the clinic to provide mental health services, dental care and other ancillary health care services.

The numbers

The city submitted its application for an FQHC on April 11 and will learn whether it was approved sometime in August. With the designation comes a $650,000 federal grant and a $288,000 match from the state.

If the city’s application is denied in 2019, Mason said that having the clinic in operation will give it a better chance of receiving the funding should Racine decide to apply again in 2020.

The future 5,000 square-foot clinic is set to be located in the lower level of the old Garfield School section of Julian Thomas. Unified has budgeted $900,000 of its community service fund, also known as Fund 80, to transform the space into a clinic. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer.

If it does not receive the grant, the city estimates it will cost approximately $2.5 to $3 million to get the clinic up and running. With the grant, the cost is expected to be $2 million at most. But the numbers depend on whether or not local health care businesses donate equipment to the clinic, something some of them are considering. At Wednesday’s press conference, Mason said the plan is to raise funds from the private sector to cover the remaining costs.

Bowersox said they hope to open the clinic by Jan. 2.

“I know that this clinic is going to provide a need for our school community, our families, the broader community, that is really needed. To provide health care services that otherwise may not be provided for these families is going to be provided right here.” Eric Gallien, Racine Unified superintendent

Crime-and-courts
March traffic stop in Oak Creek
Facing OWI citation, Racine County deputy refused blood draw

OAK CREEK — A Racine County Sheriff’s deputy was cited for suspicion of operating while intoxicated just after midnight on March 19. He reportedly was wearing his Racine County deputy uniform at the time of the traffic stop and refused to have his blood drawn.

According to an incident report The Journal Times obtained via an open records request this week, Deputy Jesse Danek, 38, faces a first-offense OWI charge after he was pulled over for making multiple traffic violations in the City of Oak Creek.

Danek reportedly blew a 0.00 on a preliminary breath test, but the arresting officer reported that Danek and his vehicle smelled of alcohol, according to the incident report.

Submitted photo 

Danek

Officers later learned that Danek is prescribed with two different medications. When taken together, those medications, have led to instances of “sleep-driving,” according to the Food and Drug Administration.

According to the Oak Creek Municipal Court, a trial is scheduled; however, the date and full charges were not shared with The Journal Times. A records request was submitted Tuesday afternoon.

“Deputy Danek has a noncriminal forfeiture matter pending in Oak Creek Municipal Court and, therefore, has not been placed on leave.” Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said in a statement. “Once that matter has been adjudicated, our office will determine whether internal sanctions are appropriate.”

Danek, who lives in Oak Creek, became a Racine County deputy in May 2018, according to the Racine County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page. He previously worked as a public safety officer with the South Milwaukee Police Department.

“It is not appropriate for me to elaborate further at this time as it is a pending internal personnel matter,” Schmaling said. “Deputy Danek is a military veteran and proudly serves the citizens of Racine County as a deputy sheriff.”

Schmaling said he is not at liberty to discuss whether Danek has any medical issues associated with his service to our country.

The incident

When he was pulled over at about 12:20 a.m. on March 19, Danek reportedly had glassy eyes, slurred speech and needed to lean against his vehicle for balance after stepping out of the car.

He was pulled over after an officer reported finding Danek’s vehicle stopped partway into an intersection, taking about five seconds to accelerate when the light turned green, making a left turn from a straight-only lane and driving 70 mph in a 45 mph zone.

The officer also said that, when Danek pulled over, the front-right tire of his vehicle was resting on top of the curb.

After being asked for his driver’s license, Danek reportedly provided his badge and Sheriff’s Office ID to the Oak Creek officer. He allegedly was asked twice before actually handing over his license.

While sitting in the back of an Oak Creek squad car, Danek reportedly told an officer, “A lot of people say Oak Creek (Police Department) is pretty strict, but if that’s all you know.”

Danek continued, “I like Racine County (Sheriff’s Office). We run a little looser. ‘We all got each other.’”

Police officers didn’t pursue a warrant after Danek refused a blood draw because “there is no warrant for a municipal first OWI offense,” according to Oak Creek Police Captain David Stecker. Wisconsin is the only U.S. state where first-offense OWI is a citation, not a misdemeanor or felony.

Danek also allegedly refused to answer an officer’s questions regarding drug and alcohol consumption for the police report.

A Kenosha Police sergeant, Gregory Munnelly, who has since lost his job, was also arrested by Oak Creek Police and charged with operating while intoxicated after he crashed on Nov. 6, 2017, at the intersection of Ryan Road and Howell Avenue.

Meds

As of April 10, Danek had been legally prescribed two medications — zaleplon (a.k.a. Sonata) for insomnia and alprazolam (a.k.a. Xanax) for anxiety — according to the incident report.

Among zaleplon’s possible side effects are drowsiness, confusion and lethargy.

The FDA has reported that some who have taken alprazolam and other central nervous system depressants like zaleplon together have experienced “getting out of bed … and driving their cars while not fully awake, often with no memory of the event.” This symptom, known as “sleep-driving,” becomes more likely if alcohol is consumed, according to the FDA.

While searching Danek’s clothing on March 19, an officer reported finding one alprazolam (Xanax) pill “stashed” into Danek’s boot. Danek reportedly told the officer the pill “must have fallen in his boot” and wasn’t “stashed” there, as the officer thought at first.

“Deputy Danek has a noncriminal forfeiture matter pending in Oak Creek Municipal Court and, therefore, has not been placed on leave. Once that matter has been adjudicated, our office will determine whether internal sanctions are appropriate.” Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling

Bowersox


Pete Wicklund /   

Evers


Local
Robert Spitzer, former MSOE president, businessman, UN delegate, dies at 96

BURLINGTON — Dr. Robert R. Spitzer, a researcher, author, educator, conservative thinker, farmer, businessman, third president of the Milwaukee School of Engineering and member of President Gerald Ford’s administration, died of natural causes Tuesday night in hospice care at Aurora Burlington Medical Center, three days before his 97th birthday.

Spitzer’s decades-spanning resume left literally millions of individuals — not only in Wisconsin, but worldwide — touched by his legacy. Never slowing down, Spitzer seamlessly transitioned from public to private life throughout his illustrious career.

“His long and impressive list of accomplishments (is) only outnumbered by his many acts of kindness toward others,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said in a statement. “He went out of his way to share his gifts and expertise by mentoring others, which included me.”

Burlington Mayor Jeannie Hefty publicly mourned Spitzer’s death on Facebook, writing Wednesday morning that “Burlington has lost an icon.”

Under Ford, Spitzer was head of the State Department’s Food for Peace program from 1975-76, which since its creation in 1954 has benefitted more than four billion people worldwide, according to the United States Agency for International Development. He also served as the U.S. delegate to the United Nations’ World Food Program.

Journal Times file photo 

Robert R. Spitzer, left, speaks with Grace Lofgren, a Burlington librarian, in this Sept. 12, 1968, file photo.

Beyond his public contributions, he was CEO of Murphy Products Co. in Burlington from 1947-76, trustee and director of Roundy’s Foods, director and senior mentor of Kikkoman Foods in the Village of Walworth and Tokyo, chairman of the Wisconsin Manufacturers Association and president of the Milwaukee and Burlington Rotary clubs, according to a list of his accomplishments from the Wauwatosa School District, from which he graduated from in 1939.

MSOE

In 1977, Spitzer became MSOE’s third president, a post he filled through 1991. During that period, the school added eight undergraduate degree programs and one graduate program including architecture, biomedicine, computer and industrial engineering, management systems and technical communication, according to an MSOE website archive.

“He was beloved by the entire MSOE community,” the school said Wednesday in a statement. “Dr. Spitzer was dedicated to MSOE’s vision and his vast experience in education and the business world helped him bring energy, passion and a new global awareness to the university.”

Current MSOE President Dr. John Walz said: “Bob Spitzer was a true friend and adviser. His energy and positive spirit were infectious, and his passion for MSOE knew no bounds. Even in retirement, Bob was a steadfast supporter of the university and we are grateful for the lasting impact he made on MSOE.”

The Wisconsin Historical Society in 2010 named Spitzer a Wisconsin History Maker for his “significant contributions to history in the state, across the nation or around the world.” Last July, Spitzer donated a collection of some of his professional documents to the Historical Society.

"Dr. Robert Spitzer was a dear friend to the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Wisconsin Historical Foundation and he will be deeply missed," WHS Director Christian Overland said in a statement. "We were honored when Dr. Spitzer donated the papers from his distinguished career and life of service, which will be useful for generations to come. Our thoughts are with Delores and his family during this difficult time.”

The Journal Times frequently covered Spitzer and his latest accomplishments. One of the earliest stories on him, published Jan. 29, 1948, was about him founding Burlington’s local University of Wisconsin alumni club. He was quoted as recently as 2002 when Burlington residents spoke against the then-proposed Walmart Supercenter.

Spitzer was known for his intellectualism and love for America exhibited in his writings, filmography and speeches. On Sept. 3, 1961, The Journal Times reported that Spitzer took a 21-day, 20,000 mile European tour to study Soviet agricultural methods.

Journal Times file photo 

Robert R. Spitzer, of Burlington, visits a Russian farm during a three-week European trip to observe Soviet farming techniques in this Sept. 21, 1961, archival photo. Spitzer, an author, educator and businessman, died Tuesday night of natural causes at Aurora Burlington Medical Center. He would have turned 97 on May 4.

His conclusion? Russian farms were “highly inefficient by American standards,” he told The Journal Times.

“His involvement in conservative advocacy is an inspiration,” Vos said. “He was the true definition of a compassionate conservative.”

“His long and impressive list of accomplishments is only outnumbered by his many acts of kindness toward others. He went out of his way to share his gifts and expertise by mentoring others, which included me.” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, speaking about Robert Spitzer

Mason