FULTON, NY – The Fulton City School District Board of Education heard of the benefits and possibility of implementing a NYS school-based health clinic in one of the district’s elementary schools.
Though still in its infancy stages, the CNY Leadership Development Program, made up of Jon Fasulo, Angela Ferlito, Matt Kimpland, Ami LaDue, Nate Murray, Dan Stadtmiller and Kelly Stadtmiller have thoroughly examined the needs and desires for a school-based health clinic within the district.
“This is something we would really like to do,” said executive director of instruction and assessment, Betsy Conners.
School officials cited studies that show poverty can shorten a person’s life expectancy and also cited studies referencing educational effects on poverty.
For these reasons, school officials and the leadership development program would implement the first school-based health center in the district at Fairgrieve Elementary School.
Fairgrieve has the highest population of economically disadvantaged students recording more than 75% of students categorized in this status and as the not economically disadvantaged student population continues at a steady pace in graduation rate, the economically disadvantaged student population continues on a steady decline.
“We are doing everything in our power to close that gap,” said Conners.
In order to connect the pieces for economically disadvantaged students, Conners referenced the need to address the areas of mental health, physical health, educational effects and graduation rates.
The mental health component has been addressed through school based mental health and physical health is currently being addressed at Fairgrieve specifically through the CHOMPERS program which provides dental care to students in school and would be further addressed through the development of a school-based health center.
“That program has been extremely successful, I believe (the school-based health center) will be just as successful and will really make (Fairgrieve) a community school,” Conners said.
Lorilee Dempsey, the school nurse at Fairgrieve equally sees the needs and benefits to implementing a health center in school, according to Conners.
To ensure the program would be well received and utilized by students, the Leadership Development Program surveyed parents of the district to consider what services offered on school grounds would be taken advantage of.
55 parents said they would utilize allergy shots, 89 said they would utilize immunizations, 101 said they would utilize sick visits, 87 said they would utilize physicals, 68 said they would utilize routine checkups and 42 said they would utilize none.
A school-based health center would allow parents of Fairgrieve students to utilize all of those options and more with the convenience of being located in the school building their child attends.
A school-based health center could provide students in the school comprehensive primary care including “age appropriate and on site health services, oral health assessments, sports physicals and working papers, and immunizations as necessary” as well as “routine screenings, treatment of acute illnesses, management of chronic diseases and referrals to other physicians.”
While some of the listed services are not applicable to elementary school students, they show the larger compass of possibilities for school-based health centers throughout the district.
The health center would be composed of a nurse practitioner, physician assistant, supervising physician, medical assistant and program manager and would be fit to meet the facility requirements.
Such requirements would include a large enough space to house an exam room, counseling room, storage space, sink and toilet, clerical area, infirmary area and waiting area, much like any other physician’s office.
The staffing would come as part of a partnership with Northern Oswego County Health Services Inc., a patient centered network of health care practices that is operated by a private, federally funded non-profit.
The center would be at no cost out of pocket for start up or for upkeep as the services are billed to insurance.
While NOCHSI accepts all major insurances, if a student is found to be without health insurance then the center will work with the student’s parents and the appropriate agencies to secure health insurance for the child.
“Based on all of that information, I think this is something we would really benefit from, at Fairgrieve in particular,” said Conners.
If Fairgrieve was to implement the health center, only students enrolled in that school would be eligible to use the center. Students from other schools in the district would not be allowed.
Fulton would be in company with other Oswego County schools including Pulaski, Sandy Creek, both of which operate through the summer, and most recently, Mexico who have implemented school-based health centers in its district through a partnership with NOCHSI.
With the unanimous approval from the board of education, the Leadership Development Program will now return to the NOCHSI Board of Directors concerning a partnership. The next step will then be to contact NYS, begin an approximate year long application process and finally, begin plans for implementation.
Conners estimates about two years before the health center would be in place.