School-based health clinic will open soon

The Shenandoah Community Health Clinic is set to open a facility for children at  Ashby Lee Elementary School in Quicksburg within the next month.

According to Pam Murphy, executive director of the clinic, medical services for students at Ashby Lee Elementary School will be starting Sept. 11. The week after, mental health counseling services will begin and the clinic will start performing dental services the following week.

“We’re kind of just adding them in as we can,” Murphy said.

She noted that the Shenandoah Community Health Clinic started looking into having a clinic established at Ashby Lee Elementary after the clinic was invited to talk about what they do.

Following an initial presentation, Murphy said that staff and nurses from the school came to her with a number of health problems faced by some students.

“I was really shocked and surprised just at the severity of the problems that the schools were dealing with,” Murphy said.

That led Murphy to head toward setting up a small clinic at the school. Murphy said  the clinic will start off only accepting children who go to the school, but she added that she hopes it will be able to expand toward accepting some adults after the school day ends.

Shenandoah County Public Schools and the Shenandoah County School Board have decided to provide space for the clinic in the school. Murphy said that there is not enough space for the clinic to perform mental health, medical and dental services at the same time.

“Because of that, we kind of have to alternate our services,” she said.

Murphy described the new clinic as a way for students, particularly low-income students, to be able to receive health exams without their parents having to miss work.

“[Missing work] can be a real burden if you don’t have an understanding boss,” Murphy said.

With the new clinic, parents can sign a consent form allowing the student to receive care at the school clinic and the children can receive an exam while they are at school.

Murphy said that most of the students who are going to receive care at the new clinic have insurance through Medicaid.

“We just did an analysis of this and it looks like the great majority of the kids have Medicaid,” Murphy said. “There are some that are uninsured, but we’re trying to help with both.”

Murphy said that the clinic is also willing to diagnose children who have private insurance if their parents have signed consent forms. But she added that those children are unlikely to need to receive ongoing care at the school clinic.

“We’re not trying to displace anybody’s primary care doctor or dentist if they have a relationship,” Murphy said.

The clinic will be offering walk-in medical services to children from 7 to 10 a.m. on Mondays.

Murphy estimated that the costs for the clinic over the next two years would be near $500,000.

The Shenandoah Community Health Clinic has received a number of grants and donations for the project, including a $10,000 donation from a local church and a $20,000 grant from Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children: The Foundation of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, to pay for dental equipment.

“We’re certainly writing grants wherever we can, but it’s going to take a lot of helping hands to get that job done,” Murphy said.