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Elmhurst EpiPen rollout experiences setback

Doctor says proposed training programs aren't sufficient

ELMHURST – Elmhurst City Manager James Grabowski announced at the Sept. 5 City Council meeting that there has been a setback for allowing the Elmhurst Police Department to carry EpiPens.

"Last week, we had a little setback. We received a follow-up message from Dr. [Therese] Gracey that in her opinion, none of the three Department of Public Health training programs would provide the adequate training in her eyes," Grabowski said.

He said Gracey recommended the city not move forward with the implementation of training until the "proper" training program that meets her requirements is either found or developed. The program would go beyond how to administer an EpiPen, concentrating on when and when not to administer the device. He said he's not sure how that will interact with the state law's specific training requirements.

"We certainly share Dr. Gracey's frustrations in getting this implemented," Grabowski said. "I think the council knows that over the last six or eight months, the Police Department has been working very hard on this, and we will continue to work with her and doctors at Elmhurst Hospital and Good Samaritan, so that the Elmhurst Police Department can be trained to properly carry and administer the EpiPens as soon as possible."

Gracey, a pediatrician, and Dr. Jeffrey Kulik, an allergist-immunologist, had signed a standing order that would allow the department to carry and administer EpiPens upon completion of an approved training program and the purchase of the doses of epinephrine, Elmhurst Police Chief Michael Ruth previously told Suburban Life.

An Illinois law known as the "Annie LeGere Law" allows law enforcement agencies to train officers on how to recognize and respond to anaphylaxis and administer epinephrine.

The law is named for Elmhurst resident Annie LeGere, who died Aug. 26, 2015, from prolonged anaphylactic shock caused by an allergic reaction. She was 13 years old.

Shelly LeGere, Annie's mom, said in a phone interview after the meeting that it's vital the program used is "adequate, thorough and the right one."

"We need to find the perfect thing. ... We want to do it the right way to avoid any kind of other roadblocks," LeGere said.

Ruth said the liability protection in the law for doctors prescribing the EpiPens is lacking, which is why the department could not carry EpiPens until Gracey and Kulik stepped up. The DuPage County Sheriff's Office has been able to carry EpiPens because there is a doctor on staff who is able to prescribe it for them, he said.

A draft bill improvement may be presented at the state veto session in the fall in Springfield, Mayor Steven Morley said.

"There's a big push to get...this addition to the law that will kind of remove the handcuffs from the doctors and their insurance companies and will give them protection under the law," Morley said. "And the belief is that that will allow for more of a blanket rollout of this."

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