URBANA – There were days when Dr. Kimberly Glow would arrive at Urbana's school-based health center to see her young patients and would unexpectedly find it closed.
There were days when Glow – the school center's medical director – would find part of her medical staff had been pulled without her knowledge to help out at the busy Frances Nelson Health Center across town.
There was criticism, bickering among the school health center's collaborating partners, and no resolutions.
This week, she'd had enough, Glow said. She resigned.
"I'm tired and frustrated," she said.
Glow has been medical director at the school health center at Urbana High School since it opened in the fall of 2004, the pride of several community organizations that got together to bring free medical and dental care to Urbana students.
But there have been problems behind the scenes from the start, Glow said.
A major issue has been ideological differences between her and the Urbana school health center's operator, the Community Health Improvement Center in Decatur, Glow said.
The Decatur organization wanted her to pick up the volume of patients, more akin to what goes on in a community health center like Frances Nelson, Glow said.
Glow, who came to the Urbana position with a background in adolescent medicine and school health, said school health centers aren't supposed to run like community health centers. A school health center sees every patient visit as a chance to take a look at the youth's complete health picture. Is that teen a substance abuser? Getting good nutrition? Exposed to violence outside school?
"Teens are so complicated," she added. "We're not doing our job if we get that kid in and out of there in 10 minutes."
Other issues developed. There was squabbling going on within the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District's dental program at the school health center. The Decatur organization took to closing the school center unexpectedly and pulling its staff to fill in at Frances Nelson, which is so busy it stopped keeping a waiting list. Appointments with students would have to be canceled suddenly, Glow said.
Even worse, students showing up at the school center because it was supposed to be open, and finding it closed, would leave without the help they needed.
"We operate heavily on walk-ins," Glow said. "That to me was the more disturbing fact. Teen-agers, as you know, don't think ahead."
Glow said these issues were discussed many times among the school center's cooperating partners and never resolved.
Barbara Dunn, executive director of the Decatur organization, declined to discuss Glow's concerns or her resignation.
"It's a personnel issue. I don't have any comments on it," she said.
Dunn did, however, say the school health center would remain open and her organization would make sure it has a medical staff.
She also called Glow's resignation regrettable.
"She (Glow) is passionate about school-based health, and she is certainly to be commended for what she did for the school-based health center in Urbana," she added.
Urbana school Superintendent Gene Amberg said in a written statement that Glow was instrumental in getting the school health center established, and he called her resignation a "loss for the entire community."
"She's passionate about her work and a caring individual," he said. "Given her experience with site-based health centers in the Chicago area, we felt she had wonderful experience for us to draw from, and she definitely has experience in a field that few people in this part of the state are familiar with."
Meanwhile, issues Glow raised about the dental clinic problems are already being investigated, said Vito Palazzolo, the new executive director of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District.
"There are some issues that we are aware of that we have been dealing with over the last two and a half and three weeks," Palazzolo said.
Glow said she isn't sure of her future plans. She's already had some job offers, she said, but she's not thinking that far ahead yet.
One thing Glow is thinking about, she said, is that both the local community and the continuation of the Urbana school health center mean a lot to her, and she aims to remain available to help in any way she can.
She hopes others will do likewise.
"I think the community, if they really want this place, the community has to rally," she added.