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In-school clinic doing well for Bardstown City Schools

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By Kacie Goode

Concluding its first year in the district, the Bardstown City Schools Health Clinic is doing well.

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“It’s been a hectic day,” Felicia Flanagan said as the office worked to finish up some appointments and walk-ins Wednesday. But the business means families are utilizing the new service.

“I think as the year has progressed, it has become more popular,” Flanagan said. “The word has spread, parents are learning of the services we provide and taking advantage. I feel like it’s really been a great service to our students and our families as well.”

The clinic was created last May and a renovation at the Bardstown Elementary School was completed over the summer to have the resource ready for the 2016-2017 school year. The clinic was made possible through a partnership between the district and Physicians to Children, which staffs a full-time nurse practitioner.

“If a student becomes ill at school, I assess them,” said Flanagan, school nurse and district health coordinator, who also works in the clinic. Flanagan will determine if a child needs to see the practitioner and, if they have been permitted by a parent or guardian to use the resource, will be seen immediately.

“She can do diagnostic testing,” Flanagan said. “We can run streps and flus and all that there in the clinic.”

The practitioner can also prescribe an antibiotic or other treatment and send it to a pharmacy.

Parents can also make appointments for the kids during the school day.

“If they need a sports physical or school physical, they can do that during the school day without being counted absent,” Flanagan said.

The clinic bills any insurance accepted by Physicians to Children, and is open to BCS students, siblings and children of staff members under the age of 22. While the clinic is located in the elementary school, there is also a school nurse stationed at the primary school to help serve the younger students at the facilities off Templin Avenue. Students may also choose to see their own doctor.

The resource is a game-changer when it comes to sick days, Flanagan said, especially for working parents, as the clinic allows them to bypass long waits at other doctors visits, or removing the child from school when it’s not necessary.

While several factors can affect attendance, and Flanagan couldn’t provide data on how the clinic has affected those rates, she does believe it’s doing good.

“From a clinic standpoint, I feel we have not sent as many students home,” as in the past, she said, because the clinic can actually determine if a student is contagious and needs to leave school rather than guessing by apparent symptoms.

Bardstown City Schools Superintendent Brent Holsclaw said it is possible the clinic has attributed to a rise in overall attendance.

Last year’s attendance rate at this time, he said, was about 93.92 percent. This year, the rate was 94.11.

“In the school business, that is a significant increase. That’s a good number of students,” he said.

Better attendance is something other school districts with in-school clinics have experienced as well.

Melissa Lott, youth services center coordinator for the Academy at Shawnee, said she has seen reduced absenteeism since an in-school health clinic was opened a few years ago.

“It’s easier access to health professionals, so parents don’t have to miss work,” Lott said, adding that students are able to be seen and treated more quickly, reducing the spread of illness to others and spending less time out of the classroom.

“Because it reduces absenteeism, we’ve seen grades go back up because kids are actually able to be in class and learn,” she said.

The nurse practitioners are also able to help determine an issue that might be bothering a student, such as a headache or a toothache, and students with diabetes, asthma or other issues can receive health education as well.

While the BCS clinic may just be concluding its first year, officials are happy with what they are seeing and look forward to see how the clinic will continue to serve the students.

“We took a leap of faith and it’s really exceeded our expectations,” Flanagan said.