Health care at school
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent November 7, 2013 11:16AM
Medical assistant Samantha Rice (left) helps parent Elizabeth Williamson fill out registration forms for her two sons at the new Brickie Health Clinic inside Hobart High School. | Karen Caffarini/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 9, 2013 9:45AM
Students at Hobart High School can now be treated for an ear infection or sore throat, even have a routine physical done, without missing school for what could be days at a time or even leaving school at all.
St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart and the School City of Hobart have partnered to open the new Brickie Community Health Clinic, manned by nurse practitioner Julie Burk and medical assistant Samantha Rice and accessed through Door 11 at the high school, 2211 E. 10th St.
The clinic is open to all School City of Hobart students and employees who are registered with the clinic. It will offer basic primary-care services including earache or ear infection, immunizations, nasal congestion and sore throat. Mental health screenings and referrals, substance abuse referrals and nutrition and weight counseling will also be done on-site. The clinic is not free.
“This has been a great day for us. A lot of people came here today excited about having health care this close and this fast,” Schools Supt. Peggy Buffington said Oct. 29 during an open house and tour of the new clinic.
Buffington said she and Janice Ryba, CEO of St. Mary Medical Center, had been talking about opening a clinic at the school for a long time.
“We thought it would be a good idea, but it really came down to data. We knew we could do more preventive care and education and there was a need for wellness care,” Buffington said.
She said it can take up to three days for students to be able see a doctor for their ailment, so parents will keep their kids home for three days.
“With the clinic we can take care of them right away and get them back in school,” she said.
Elizabeth Williamson was registering her two sons, ages 14 and 17, during the open house.
Williamson said the clinic gives her peace of mind that if her sons get sick at school they can be treated at school, plus she likes the fact that it’s close to their home.
Burk, a Valparaiso resident, said she will get the students treated and back to class right away.
She said she will work with the school nurse, not replace the nurse. According to a handout distributed by St. Mary, the school nurse will continue to administer prescription or over-the-counter medications from home and assist students with chronic illness and various other minor injuries and illnesses.
Burk said the clinic is not a new concept and was modeled after national standards. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are more than 2,000 of these clinics nationwide.
Buffington said the new clinic is part of an ongoing partnership between the school city and hospital. She said the hospital sponsors Parents as Teachers, a parenting program for children from birth to kindergarten, helped bring the first Teaching Garden to Hobart and diabetes education programs at the elementary schools.
The hospital also co-sponsors the Emergency Rescue Technology Class, which teaches emergency rescue at Hobart High School, and provides student internships at the hospital through the Project Lead The Way BioMedical program.
The clinic is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Wednesday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Appointments can be scheduled, but walk-ins are also welcome.