By LINDA LOBECK
KINGSFORD - Discussions have been going on between the Breitung Township Schools and Dickinson County Healthcare System about the possibility of placing a pediatric clinic at Woodland Elementary School.
Theresa Proudfit/Daily News Photo
Officials at Breitung Township Schools and Dickinson County Healthcare System have been discussing the possibility of placing a pediatric clinic at Woodland Elementary School. If approved, the clinic would open in October.
School officials heard recently about the potential for a clinic in the school from Carrie Meeuwsen, school nurse, and Supt. Craig Allen.
A meeting had been held with representatives from the hospital and the school district to brainstorm ideas on where there were health needs in the district.
This idea for a pediatric clinic came out of those discussions, Meeuwsen said.
"We contacted our school nurses to see if it would work - whether it would be viable starting with the elementary school," Allen said.
"The idea behind having a clinic there is to provide better access to care for kids. It's for the kids that get up in the morning and are sick or become sick during the school day and need medical care," Meeuwsen said.
"Our health care system provides a pediatric clinic and after hours care already, but they are suggesting coming into the school during a limited time period to see kids," she said.
She added that the care would only be provided with a parent or guardian on site with the child and their permission for care had been given.
Although they also discussed the other buildings in the district - high school and middle school - it was decided that it should start first with a pilot program at the elementary school.
"We are looking for care for more acute illnesses or scheduling well-child visits too," Meeuwsen said.
"Julie Cootware, Woodland school nurse, and I talked with the building principals and will explore this further. The clinic would offer a mid-level provider with pediatric physician's assistant Vanessa Sleik, who is on staff with the Dickinson Pediatric Clinic and nurse Jamie Hogberg would assist her," she said.
The location of the clinic would be in the Woodland school building.
"The thought is to start small and see if there is a need for these services. The clinic would be open a couple of hours in the morning where people could drop in and wouldn't need an appointment. Any care provided requires a parent or guardian to be there with the child," she added.
The cost or co-pay would be the same as a regular office visit.
"What this would do is provide access to care for children and it's up to the parents to decide if they want to use it. It could be a helpful service for the parent to utilize. The discussion was to have this start in mid-October," Allen said.
Students would still see the school nurse if they were already in school and became ill.
That nurse would contact the parents if it was determined that they needed to see someone. The child would not have direct access to the clinic without the parents being there.
"It would compliment what we already do here in the district in providing care for the students," Allen noted.
Although no official action was taken by school officials, school board members informallly polled by Board President Charles Novara to see if they were in favor of pursuing this pilot clinic in the school district.
Board member Joanne To said that it was a good idea as long as they started out slowly.
Board member Kate Thomas said that they needed to think about it some more.
"While it's a good idea, I wouldn't want to be taking away patients from the other doctors in the area with this clinic," Thomas said.
Both Novara and Rice said that it was a good idea that was worth pursuing.
"I think it's a great idea to be able to offer this to the kids in school," said Board member Bob Hendrickson.
Meeuwsen said that if this works out, they could hopefully offer the same type of service in the high school/middle school in the future.
"It's all about providing access to care for our students," Allen added.
Linda Lobeck's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.