Taylor County BOE teams up with GTCHD to improve student health

PRUNTYTOWN—The Taylor County Board of Education met on Tuesday for their bi-monthly meeting to discuss a proposal for School Based Health Centers.

Certified Family Nurse Practitioner (CFNP) Diana Boyle with the Grafton-Taylor County Health Department addressed the board.

“Our purpose is to open dialog and discussion and hopefully start planning to develop School Based Health Centers,” she said.

She explained that these are centers that are within the school environment and provide primary healthcare and behavioral health, in an environment where a student feels confortable and less intimidated.

“School Based Health Centers can provide a wide range of health services, from routine checkups to treating chronic illnesses,” Boyle said.

She disclosed to the board that centers were originated in the 1960’s in connection with the advent of Medicaid. School based clinics are now in 45 states including West Virginia.

The centers serve over a million students a year throughout the country by providing medical and mental health services.

Some of the medical services that would be offered are comprehensive health exams, diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions, routine management of chronic conditions, immunizations, CLIA waived lab services, preventative services, health education and promotion, as well as referral and coordination of outside services needed.

Behavioral health services will also be available which include mental health awareness and outreach, suicide prevention, behavioral health care including assessment, treatment, referral and crisis intervention.

In addition, individual, group and family therapy, social assessments, referral and follow up as needed.

“If we can address health at the school level with a School Based Health Center and have a very positive and health promotion attitude I feel that it can spread throughout the schools and into our community,” said Boyle.

Board Member Douglas Flohr asked what costs will be associated with center.

Boyle answered, “The cost of the of getting the centers established is on our part. The school part will be showing the health center staff their school policy, providing the space and helping to get the word out to the parents.”

Children and youth can come to the center if they are not feeling well or if the school nurses or counselor identify an issue.

She explained this is something that will work in conjunction with the schools nurses and counselor.

In addition, she shared some of the advantages of a School Based Health Center are numerous and include, providing a direct access to healthcare providers in a convenient, less intimidating and confidential setting while they are at school.

The centers will serve all students whether they have insurance or not. By providing the centers in school, students will miss less class time to receive basic healthcare and there will be a reduction of transportation problems in seeking healthcare.

Superintendent Kathy Green introduced Jennifer McCarthy, who is in charge Nurses for Taylor County Board of Education

McCarthy questioned if the center will to be opened to the community.

Boyle answered its for school employees and students. “We will not be seeing parents it is in the school, stays in the school and services the school,” she added.

Boyle shared that the recommendation is for a school with 300-900 students 12-20 hours per week and a 20 hours per week for a mental health counselor.

Boyle expressed that is something she has envisioned for a long time.

“I really think we can help our whole community by starting with the kids,” she noted.

David Bender, MD Taylor County Health Officer spoke to the board members next.

He explained that the reason the health department was present with this proposal is because they feel like this is a public health initative and a public health issue.

“We are not doing this to try to make money. We doing this we think we can better serve the health needs of Taylor County by offering something for the schools,” voiced Bender.

“It is a great initiative we are very please and look forward to the future coordination of it,” said Flohr.

Boyle shared that the next steps will be to develop a community advisory board with representation from school administrators, the school board, school nurses, school staff, parents, youth, health care providers, business leaders, religious leaders, judicial officials and members of the media.

Followed by conducting a Community Assessment to determine the types of services the school based health center should offer and how to structure those services to fill any health care gaps in the area.

Once that information is attained, centers will be created. The centers are planned to be in the schools in the upcoming 2018-2019 school year.

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