Back To School: School-based health centers gaining popularity

Bringing the doctor's office to your child's school. School-Based Health Centers are growing in popularity in our area.

They can handle everything from well child and adult exams, to administering vaccines and prescribing medications. 

We headed over to Morgan Elementary in Paducah to find out how that pilot program's success is spurring two more clinics to open this year in the district.

Megan will be in the first grade this year. What's her goal?

"Getting it done, so that way I cannot go back to school," Megan told us in that straightforward way only kids can get away with.

"You never know what kids are gonna' say," Physician Assistant Jessica Frizzell said with a laugh. 

Frizzell's got the "expect anything" attitude as she starts her first year as a PA at Morgan Elementary's School Based Health Center, operated by Mercy Health.

"The exam was done here, and the nurse practitioner, her desk was here," Frizzell explained, pointing out how their old clinic was laid out.

They shared the old nurse's office. This year, they're moving across the hall. It's not far, but it's a much bigger space that gives them more flexibility.

"We have more room, and we'll be able to accommodate more patients, too, because we'll have more exam rooms," Frizzell said.

For parents, it's all about convenience.

"I can see them in the clinic, evaluate them, diagnose them, treat them, send the prescription to the pharmacy, all before the parent has to come pick their child up," Frizzell said of her role over the clinic.

"Seventy-five percent of the people who were seen here were either returned back to work or returned back to class," said Troy Brock, Paducah Schools director of pupil personnel.

Brock says keeping the kids healthy and in class learning is goal No. 1, but the benefits of these clinics don't end with the students.  

"Really building community buy-in," Brock said.

Megan and her little brother Gabriel's parents can come here too. So can teachers like Carol Withrow, whose ear specialist moved. She suffers from chronic ear infections and needs to have ready access to care.

"So I sometimes will need to see somebody in a hurry, and our clinic is the perfect solution," Withrow explained.

Mercy Health will open another clinic this year at McNabb Elementary. Baptist Health Paducah will open one at Paducah Tilghman High School. To learn more about Baptist Health's recent efforts to open school-based health centers, click here.
     
As far as cost to families, services are billed to private insurance or Medicaid. No child has ever been turned away due to inability to pay.

There are other districts in our area, including McCracken County, that operate School Based Health Centers. Contact your district to find out if they're available where you live.

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