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Salem High School to get school-based health center

SALEM — A school-based health center is coming to Salem High School next fall through a contract awarded by the Ohio Department of Health to QUICKMed Urgent Care LLC.

Salem Schools Superintendent Sean Kirkland said he received word earlier this month about the funding announcement made by Gov. Mike DeWine for the establishment or expansion of 136 school-based health centers. Salem schools made the list.

According to the announcement, QUICKMed Urgent Care LLC is being awarded $1,872,887 for school-based health centers at Salem city schools and Liberty local schools. Sebring and East Palestine schools were listed under a contract for Akron Children’s and Minerva was listed under Aultman Health Foundation.

Kirkland first mentioned the idea of a medical clinic within the district at the high school in January, explaining it would be staffed by a nurse practitioner on site who could prescribe medications if warranted with approval by parents. The clinic could also be used for drug screenings and school physicals for athletes.

“The goal is to have it up and ready to go by Sept. 1,” Kirkland said Friday.

The decision was made to have the clinic at the high school since it holds six grades, but the clinic will be open to all students in the district in all grade levels and their families.

He said the plan is to remodel a lounge across from the school nurse office and remodel the school nurse office, which is located in a hallway not far from the cafeteria exterior entrance.

Kirkland said the school nurses will play an integral role in this, stressing that they’ll be able to refer students to the health center and will remain in their jobs as school nurses. The health center will have its own employees. The services will be provided free or turned in to a family’s health insurance.

“A lot of kids and our families have a barrier to health care,” Kirkland said, adding this will take down the barriers within the walls of the school.

“Studies have shown that health and wellness are interconnected,” Governor DeWine said in the press release about the school-based health centers. “A student who is not healthy or who is chronically absent is not able to achieve their full potential. These partnerships between healthcare providers and schools support the whole child and ensures that every child may realize their full potential.”

The press release from the governor’s office also said “school-based health initiatives help ensure students are in school, healthy, and ready to learn through a school or district’s partnerships with health care providers and other community organizations. These clinics have emerged as effective models to improve student access to healthcare and have helped closed the gap for children in underserved communities.”

Kirkland said the district is also looking at the viability of a concierge plan that would allow school employees and their families to use the clinic. The district would pay $3,500 per month for the plan. Nothing has been decided regarding the concierge plan.

He did say the cost may be less when considering the district would no longer have to pay for the drug testing service used now.

More details about the school-based health center will be released as plans continue.

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