Danville could double school nurses

Published 7:47 pm Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Danville Independent School District would double its nursing staff, add a full-time nurse practitioner and expand dental services for students — all without spending any money, under a proposed contract announced Tuesday night.

“I’m so excited about this program,” said Superintendent Tammy McDonald, as she laid out the details for school board members.

Danville could partner with Healthy Kids Clinic, which is a regional school health program run by Cumberland Family Medical Center. The non-profit would match Danville’s current funding for school nurses, allowing the district to grow from two nurses splitting time between the district’s four schools to four nurses — one full-time nurse in each school, McDonald said.

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HKC would also provide a full-time nurse practitioner, which would allow a wide variety of medical services to be provided within the schools. Right now, if a student gets sick, their parents are called to pick them up and then have to take them to a family doctor or a walk-in clinic, McDonald explained. Under the proposed contract, parents would have the option of allowing their child to be seen by the schools’ nurse practitioner, who could do things like test for strep throat or the flu, take blood and even call in prescriptions.

“So by the time the parent gets to the school to pick their child up, they already have been tested, diagnosed and if medication was needed, it would already be called into the pharmacy,” McDonald said. “… Under this program as well, the nurse practitioner can do well-child checkups, so all of our students could have their well-child checkups in this program as well. It’s a really great program.”

Sports physicals could also be provided under the proposed contract.

HKC would bill parents’ health insurance — if they have it — for services provided by the nurse practitioner. That provides some of the funding for the nurse practitioner position, McDonald said. If a student is not insured, HKC would charge the parents an amount based on their income level. “It could be $5, $10,” or in cases of more extreme poverty, “it could possibly be free,” she said.

“It definitely would be a much cheaper cost than a parent would pay at one of the walk-in clinics in our area,” McDonald said.

HKC would also provide expanded and improved dental services compared to what DISD currently offers: Services would be available for students at all grade levels, where right now services only go through fifth grade; and on days the dentist comes to the schools, the dental exam room would be set up inside the school, rather than in a bus in the parking lot, offering a “more comfortable environment,” McDonald explained.

And the contract would include the possibility of HKC providing a licensed social worker as a mental health professional, who would provide behavioral health services. McDonald said the school district would need to provide funding for a case worker who would work in tandem with the mental health professional.

While that would be some added cost, the district was already pondering funding for a mental health professional in its next budget, she said. Hiring the case worker is a cheaper option for the district’s bottom line than hiring the mental health professional, she explained.

According to Cumberland Family Medical Center, HKC’s mission is “to increase access to comprehensive primary and preventative health care to eliminate health disparities to the medically underinsured.”

HKC provides health services in 13 school districts with a total student population of almost 50,000, according to the company. Nearby counties already using HKC include Lincoln, Casey, Pulaski and Anderson.

The Danville Board of Education will consider approving the contract at its regular board meeting Monday. If it does, the HKC Board of Directors would then need to approve as well at the end of the month, McDonald said.