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School-Based Clinics Improve Access to Healthcare

November 10, 2006

For busy parents or guardians, taking a sick or injured child to the doctor in the middle of the day can be inconvenient, if not impossible. Fortunately, parents of students at MDI High School and Pemetic Elementary can take advantage of school-based clinics staffed with nurse practitioners who are licensed to perform many of the same duties as a doctor.

Thanks to a contractual arrangement between MDI Hospital and School Union 98, Barbara Logue, FNP, has worked at the high school clinic since 2004, while Pilar Burmeister, FNP has provided health care services at Pemetic Elementary since 2003.

While Ms. Logue is at the high school just two days per week, Ms. Burmeister is on-site five days per week at Pemetic. Each sees students for a wide range of issues, including acute illnesses, injuries, exams, immunizations, prescriptions, and health education.

At MDI High School, Registered Nurses Holly Cozzi-Burr, and Barbara Steele see patients for routine health problems. But if a student requires a deeper level of care, such as a diagnosis or prescription, Ms. Logue’s training and licensure qualifies her to provide it. As the sole health care staff member at Pemetic Elementary, Ms. Burmeister provides both nursing services and the more comprehensive services of a nurse practitioner.

The benefits of nurse practitioners in the schools are significant, for the student, the parents, and other staff. “It’s convenient for the students,” explained Ms. Burmeister. “They don’t have to miss school to see a doctor. They can just pop in.”

Prior to the health centers’ establishment, if a student required the services of a healthcare provider, he or she would have to be picked up in the middle of the day, most often by a parent or guardian, and taken to the doctor. “The most important thing for parents is not having to leave work,” explained Ms. Burmeister.

Having a nurse practitioner on-site is also beneficial to the nurses at the High School. “It has made a world of difference to have Barbara here,” explained Ms. Cozzi-Burr. “Because of her ability to diagnose, she can sum up peculiar findings on the spot, rather than having to wait for a doctor.”

“It also saves money having us in the schools,” added Ms. Burmeister. “Because we’re convenient for kids, we can diagnose problems sooner which allows us to prevent problems that might have gotten worse if they had waited to see their doctor.”

If and when a student requires treatment or a prescription, both Ms. Burmeister and Ms. Logue communicate with the student’s physician about important decisions. “I usually call their provider or I’ll send them a form that outlines any treatment I’ve provided,” said Ms. Logue. The parents are also notified anytime a child is seen.

Information is also a big part of what the two provide to students. “When I see kids for physicals, I always talk to them about health issues. Kids want to know how to stay healthy,” explained Ms. Logue. “I discuss medical and health issues with my students that they might not otherwise hear about,” added Ms. Burmeister. “We’re helping to bring up a generation of savvier healthcare consumers.”

The cost for students to be patients of the school-base health clinics at either school is $75 per year. Insurances, including MaineCare, are accepted. For more information on the school-based health clinics, call 288-5082, extension 221.

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