McKinleyville Union School District is partnering with the Humboldt Independence Association and the North Coast Health Improvement and Information Network to address the gaps in healthcare services available at the McKinleyville Middle School. The Nurses in the School pilot project is intended to provide healthcare in the school, alleviate the stress for parents to find time for appointments and encourage preventive healthcare.
McKinleyville Middle School, with a one-day-a-week nurse for 366 students, is the guinea pig in the project, but the McKinleyville Union School District and Humboldt County as a whole are facing a shortage of primary care providers, according to the Humboldt County Office of Education news release.
The majority of schools in California are experiencing a “glaring shortage of school nurses,” states the January, 2017 California Healthline article. According to California Health Care Foundation, Humboldt County has approximately one school nurse per 3,500 students.
“Our goal is to see how can we influence the health care and wellness in innovative ways in our community,” IPA Chief Operating Officer Rosemary Denouden said. IPA has a strong history around healthcare improvement and saw the need in the McKinleyville school district, Denouden said.
IPA was interested with piloting a health care center on a school campus and McKinleyville Middle School seemed like an ideal place.
“We are thrilled to have an opportunity to provide direct health service to our students,” Superintendent of McKinleyville Union School District Jan Schmidt said. “We’ve seen the challenges our families have had trying to find healthcare providers. This pilot alleviates those barriers for families and offers students responsive and timely care exactly where they are, when they need it. If successful, we anticipate expanding services to other McKinleyville schools next year.”
Grant funding enables a Nurse Practitioner and Registered Nurse to work at the health center four times a week, approximately five hours a day. Currently, the goal is to provide basic health screenings, encourage preventive activities and support health maintenance. In the future, the plan is to expand and offer a larger scope of services, including social and behavioral health resources.
Grants received provided $70,000 in funding for the staff in the 2018-2019 school year. This initial process should enable IPA to start the next model in the following weeks to asses accessibility with all insurance providers to fund the next school year. the goal is to become sustainable and have on-campus healthcare readily available for students through insurance or Medical once the next school year starts.
During the enrollment process, parents must indicate their healthcare provider. Currently, about 55 to 60 percent of students have been enrolled through Medical, Denouden said. The others have partner share or private insurance. This year, however, the grant funding covers all the costs of the health care center.
The health center has been open, more or less, for the past seven weeks and already it has become a success, Denouden said.
Lauren Tyler can be reached at 707-441-0503.