Bowling Green Independent School District students and employees will see expanded health care services beginning next school year, including health professionals at each school and a walk-in care service added to Bowling Green High School.
The expansion of health services comes after the district’s board of education awarded a contract Monday to Graves Gilbert Clinic.
“We’re just excited,” BGISD Superintendent Gary Fields said after the board meeting. “We want to create an environment where our kids have every opportunity to be at school and learning every day. … We think this is another step in that direction.”
Charles Fortney, director of occupational health for Graves Gilbert Clinic, said, “Our primary goal is we want to increase productivity and keep people healthy, whether they’re students or staff. … We want to keep them on the job.”
The school district previously contracted with the Barren River District Health Department, but Fields said the district decided to rethink that relationship and put out a request for proposals seeking bids from providers.
“They were having trouble staffing our schools, and it wasn’t because of a lack of effort,” Fields said, blaming the issue on a “tough job market” for finding the right employees.
Through the new partnership, Graves Gilbert Clinic will provide a range of services, including medication delivery, first aid, triage and access to a nurse practitioner available to all schools via telemedicine services, a joint news release said.
Students and staff will be able to get on-site screenings for flu and strep throat with immediate results. When primary care providers aren’t available, or if students or employees don’t have one, clinic staff will be able to provide vision and hearing tests and physical exams.
The news release said the district will provide treatment rooms, office space, phone and technology needs, such as high-speed internet, video capabilities and access to the district’s Infinite Campus database, among other needs.
The project includes a monthly review component during which the district will collect feedback on services and reexamine their quality, along with continuing education for nursing staff and school personnel, the release said.
Fortney said there will be either a nurse or a registered medical assistant at each school, ultimately under the direction of the nurse practitioner based at BGHS. Additionally, a medical director will support staff in implementing programs and services, the release said.
Fortney said the clinic wants to build relationships with patients “that perhaps don’t have a medical provider in the community,” noting the professionals will work with family health care providers as well.
The school district previously relied on nurses who were responsible for multiple schools, but Fields said he thinks this new model holds even more promise for promoting school health.
“This is going to allow us to create not just a model for us, but maybe a model for a lot of school districts,” he said.
– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.