Children who attend schools in the Jenkins Independent School System will soon have the opportunity to receive medical care while at school.
The Jenkins Independent Board of Education and Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation (MCHC) have entered into an agreement that will allow local health care providers to treat students, faculty and staff in school facilities.
The Letcher County Board of Education entered into a similar agreement in late July and began school-based clinics in August.
“That was so well received and we had received requests from parents and some other people as to why it was not available in Jenkins,” said Mike Caudill, chief executive officer of MCHC. “We wanted to be able to do that for all of Letcher County.”
Caudill was officially notified on November 15 that a request for a change of scope with the Health Resource Service Administration (HRSA) to be able to provide schoolbased clinics in Jenkins had been approved.
“The next step is to actually start the clinics,” said Caudill. “Then the Office of the Inspector General will come in and do an inspection which will then allow us credentials for Medicaid to be able to see patients.”
Caudill said it is important for parents to fill out a packet of forms and return the packets to their child’s school.
“We can only provide services to those individuals who are registered,” he said. “This is all voluntary. No one has to see our providers.”
Caudill said the schoolbased clinics offer a convenience for parents by being able to have their child seen at school so they don’t have to miss work or arrange transportation to get them and take them to a clinic.
“They don’t have to go through the waiting process that that entails,” he said. “So the kid can be treated there and prescriptions are called into the pharmacy of their choice as indicated on the registration form. We don’t collect any money at time of service. It is billed.”
Patients will be served at the school-based clinics beginning December 3. Some of the services provided include sick visits, preventative medicine, sports and school physicals, lacerations, routine care, sports injuries and minor injuries.
Open houses will be held from 2 to 7 p.m. on November 27 at Jenkins Middle High School, from 12 to 3 p.m. on November 28 at McRoberts Elementary School and from 12 to 3 p.m. on November 29 at Burdine Elementary School.
Cissy Jones is a newly hired nurse practitioner who will work fulltime at the school-based clinics with Matt Holbrook, a physician’s assistant at MCHC, and Larissa Bailey, an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) at Mountain Instant Care in Whitesburg. MCHC nurse practitioners Amy Frazier, Amanda Whitaker and Shannon Wilder will also see patients at the school-based clinics as needed.
“More than likely we’ll start out with Larissa working the McRoberts school” said Caudill. “Amy and Amanda will work the Burdine and Jenkins schools.”
The program is operated under the umbrella of MCHC, which is a federally-funded health center. Private insurance, Medicaid and Medicare will be accepted as payment. Students will also be able to participate in a discounted program for medication.
The providers will have an exam room complete with privacy curtains and exam tables at each school.
“ The school provides the space and Wi-Fi connection,” said Caudill. “We provide the equipment and supplies.”
The program has been successful in the Letcher County schools, he said.
“Our numbers keep increasing every month,” said Caudill. “The school reports it has made a substantial change in their absentee rate. It has also reduced loss days for staff and faculty.”
Caudill said MCHC has worked closely with the Letcher County Health Department which provides school nurses.
“That has been a great relationship,” he said. “It has benefitted them and it has benefitted us, too.”
Caudill said MCHC has taken its school- based model and presented it to groups across the state. He added that it has been well received.
“We have had interest in school systems in the Louisville area,” he said.
Holbrook and Lisa Collins, a school nurse at Letcher Elementary School, are credited with coming up with idea of establishing a school-based clinic in Letcher County.