While the reaction to a Quilcene School-Based Health Center was largely positive among attendees of an Aug. 13 meeting at the Quilcene Community Center, all agreed the idea needed more feedback from …
While the reaction to a Quilcene School-Based Health Center was largely positive among attendees of an Aug. 13 meeting at the Quilcene Community Center, all agreed the idea needed more feedback from the families of Quilcene students.
Susan O’Brien, nurse practitioner for the School-Based Health Clinic (SBHC) at Port Townsend High School, noted that her clinic and the SBHC at the Chimacum Junior/Senior High School are examples of how this concept has been implemented in other communities.
O’Brien explained that SBHCs serve students regardless of their (or their families’) ability to pay, and would likely consolidate the Quilcene School’s existing health services, such as its mental health specialist, under one roof with additional health services.
“It gets kids into the healthcare system, and connects them with outside services through referrals,” O’Brien said. “It’s an on-ramp to primary care.”
O’Brien and Quilcene School Principal Sean Moss touted the “continuity” of having the same health care professionals, including counselors, available to the students throughout the school year, and Moss was optimistic a Quilcene SBHC could also serve students who are homeschooled or who hail from Brinnon, especially for needs such as sports physicals.
O’Brien emphasized that an SBHC would afford students confidentiality, and provide both medical and dental care to accompany their existing mental health care, through services such as visits from the SmileMobile, and coordinated care through the Jefferson Healthcare South County Medical Clinic in Quilcene.
“The most important thing is that they shouldn’t avoid visiting the SBHC because they’re worried about how they or their parents will pay,” said O’Brien, who elaborated that a partnership between Jefferson Healthcare and Jefferson County Public Health, with funds already paid into mental health sales taxes and Apple Health, would cover the young patients.
Moss added this same partnership would also ensure that the Quilcene School itself incurred no significant extra costs for hosting the SBHC, while Quilcene Superintendent Frank Redmon added the SBCH would be jointly managed by the Quilcene School, Jefferson Healthcare and Jefferson County Public Health.
“We’d still have our school nurse,” Redmon said.
“But as nurse practitioners, we can write prescriptions,” O’Brien said.
“And we can meet the kids where they’re at, in the schools,” Kierkegaard said.
Kierkegaard attested to how open students are to sharing their health care needs in a SBHC, while Moss pointed out the academic advantages of avoiding extended car trips during school days to treat certain health conditions.
When asked what their next steps would be toward the possible implementation of a Quilcene SBHC, Redmon noted the feedback from the Aug. 13 meeting would be presented to the board, for them to decide whether more community feedback is needed.
Given that Moss anticipated further feedback would indeed be solicited, he predicted that, even if an SBHC were approved, it wouldn’t arrive before January of 2020.