Readin’, writin’ and ‘what’s your temperature?’

In-school clinics offer health care opportunities for students, staffers

Nurse-practitioner Courtney Paulsen (L), medical assistant Lillie Luna staff clinics. 
Reporter/MIke Brown Nurse-practitioner Courtney Paulsen (L), medical assistant Lillie Luna staff clinics. Reporter/MIke Brown Later this month a student in the Rockdale ISD who wants to “go to the doctor” can do so by simply walking down the hall.

The district’s new School- Based Health Clinic—a partnership with Little River Health Care (LRHC)—is open for use by faculty and staff and in a few weeks it will become available to students, who must first obtain parental permission.

“It’s literally the same as going to the LRHC clinics,” nurse-practitioner Courtney Paulsen said. “Except the clinic is inside the school.”

Paulsen and medical assistant Lilly Luna are staffing the clinics, rotating between the district’s four campuses.

School nurses will remain and will work in cooperation with the clinic staffers.

TRIAGE—Paulsen said students will first see school nurses who will “triage”— rank by severity—cases and send the more acute ones to the clinic.

“We are able to do some things the school nurses cannot,” Paulsen said. “We can dispense medicine. While we can’t do stitches or sutures, we can ‘glue’ cuts together. We can perform well-woman exams. We can even do procedures up to minor surgery.”

If that sounds like your normal “going to your doctor” clinic visit, it is.

Paulsen and Luna are employed by LRHC. Those seeing them at the school clinics will be asked to provide insurance information and make co-payments, just like those visiting the Richards Memorial Hospital or Main Street clinics.

“And, of course, we will be able to refer patients who need it to our local physicians or specialists,” Paulsen said.

HEALTH CARE—The school clinic idea was proposed by Dr. John M. Weed III at the May, 2012, school board meeting.

Dr. Weed said the idea came from conversations with his wife, Jeanne, a longtime school nurse in Rockdale.

“School nurses see 40 to 60 kids a day,” he noted. “There is a tremendous amount of health care going on in a system that is not a health care system.”

There are aspects to having campus-based clinics that aren’t immediately apparent.

“It’s going to really help working parents,” Paulsen noted. “When you have to take your child to the clinic, you have to come and get them out of school, go to the appointment and bring them back. That can easily take half a day.”

Now, it can be done by walking down the hall, when the proper parental forms are signed.

BOTTOM LINE—There’s a bottom-line advantage for the school district too.

“We’re going to be focusing on a lot of preventative medicine,” Paulsen said. “For instance, we’ll be able to give flu shots.”

Less children getting sick means less absences and less absences means more funding for the Rockdale ISD. State funding is based on attendance, not enrollment.

“Of course, we won’t be able to be at every campus all the time but we will post our schedule and update it as there are changes,” she said.

Tentative schedule is as follows:

Monday—Elementary, morning; junior-high, afternoon.

Tuesday—Intermediate, morning.

Wednesday—Junior-high, morning.

Thursday—High school, morning; intermediate, afternoon.

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