SOUTH DAYTON - Students who do not have medical insurance or those who do not have a primary doctor will now have access to a medical doctor during school hours.
The Pine Valley Central School is offering an alternative to primary doctors for students in the high school at its school-based health center. The school held an open house and ribbon cutting for the clinic recently.
"It's here to benefits kids and families," Steve Riczker, Resource Center director for health and health related services, said. "It's something to be proud of."
OBSERVER Photos by Samantha McDonnell
Top: Officials from the Resource Center, Pine Valley Central School and Board of Education members cut the ribbon to the school-based health center located in the Pine Valley High School.
Dr. Thomas Putnam is in the office three half-days a week. A licensed practical nurse (LPN) is available in the office when the doctor has left the office. The office is responsible for examinations as well as vaccinations, medications and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses. The office can also provide testing for strep throat, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.
When Putnam is not in the office, the LPN can schedule appointments and answer questions, but cannot treat patients. All students will be sent to the school nurse during this time. The school nurse's office is located within the clinic but has a separate entrance.
To utilize the clinic, a student must be enrolled. To enroll, a student must fill out paperwork requiring parental signature. Every time a student is seen, a report is made available to the student's primary doctor as well their parents. The center has been open since April 2011 and currently has 77 students enrolled. Students who are 18 or older may enroll themselves without parental signature.
"We're hoping to get more students enrolled," Julie Kohler, Resource Center practice manager, said.
The clinic is not any expense to students. The office visits go through the student's insurance. If the student does not have insurance, the office will help students and their families obtain insurance.
Since students can be seen during school hours, parents do not have to take off work and it is more convenient for working families, Kohler said.
The office was a "joint-venture" between the Resource Center and Pine Valley, according to Superintendent Pete Morgante. Morgante's previous school where he was a superintendent started to look at it so he was familiar with the idea. When he came to Pine Valley, the idea came to life and the Resource Center developed a partnership with the school.
"Pete (Morgante) and his staff are wonderful in this collaboration," Resource Center Executive Director Paul Cesana said.
The health clinic is looking to connect healthy children and education. If children are not healthy, they cannot learn in school.
"(We want to) bridge the connection between health care and education," Riczker said.
Board of Education President Janie Waag is proud of the clinic and thinks it is a wonderful asset to the district. With the district being in a rural area, sometimes students will not have access to a doctor and the closest doctor is in Jamestown or Dunkirk, she said.
The school based health center is similar to one located in Jamestown High School which has been open since 2005. This center has over 50 percent of the students enrolled. There are currently 220 health centers in New York state and nearly 200,000 students are seen throughout the state.
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