NorthShore Health Centers originated in Portage High School in 1995 as a teen health clinic. Now over 20 years later, Northshore’s reach has broadened and there are multiple locations spanning two counties.
This clinic, now known as the Stacey McKay Health and Education Center as of 2004, was a product of a region-wide collaboration between the Porter County Health Department, Porter Regional Hospital (which was called Porter Memorial Hospital at that time), and the Porter County Schools. Porter and the health department each donated $25,000 to match a $25,000 donation from the community, giving NorthShore’s first location a starting budget of $75,000.
Stacey McKay was the daughter of George McKay, who is a retired superintendent for Portage Township Schools. While he was active in the position, McKay helped to get NorthShore off the ground when it was in its infancy in the mid-1990s.
“The schools have always supported us and we want to continue that great relationship with them,” Todd Elliott, Business Development Director at NorthShore Health Centers said.
Stacey was a huge advocate for bone marrow and blood donation and when she was diagnosed with leukemia in the mid-1990s, she pledged to spread public awareness about the need for bone marrow and blood donations. She lost her battle with leukemia, but her efforts added 5,000 members to the registry. Her selfless acts have helped many people since then and have been an inspiration to many more.
There are many things offered to students at the Stacey McKay Health and Education Center. There are two classrooms dedicated to the Porter County Vocational Health Academy and PHS as well as other high school students in the area can earn college credits from Indiana University and Ivy Tech.
Students can also work toward getting nursing or dental assistant certificates, working one-on-one with NorthShore staff to get training for all levels of health care like: physician, nurse practitioner, nurse, medical assistant, record management, dentist, dental hygienists, dental assistant, and more. NorthShore also provides training for college students who are in college pursuing various medical degrees.
NorthShore’s dental department at the Stacey McKay Health and Education Center was voted as the “Best Place to Train” by Indiana University Northwest. The center is a vital part of not just Portage High School, but the Portage Community and the surrounding communities.
“We don’t want people to think that we are forgetting our roots,” Elliott said. “Our CEO, Jan [Wilson] would never forget where we came from. The community could never forget the mission and we are where we are now because of our supportive community.”