North Country Family Health Center (NCFHC) joins school-based health center providers and advocates from across the nation in recognizing the month of February as National School-Based Health Care Awareness Month. National School-Based Health Care Awareness Month is sponsored by the School-Based Health Alliance, a national organization that promotes and supports school-based health centers to assure all children received high quality, comprehensive healthcare. The Alliance is celebrating the month with the theme, Healthy Minds Healthy Bodies.
North Country Family Health Center opened its first school-based primary care site at North Elementary in the Watertown City School District in December 1993. Since 1993, NCFHC has opened five additional School-Based Health Centers and expanded its school-based services to include not only medical services but dental and behavioral health services as well.
Today, NCFHC operates six School-Based Health Centers in the Watertown City and South Jefferson School Districts. Students in the Watertown City School Districts are served at School-Based Health Centers at North Elementary (serves all elementary aged children), Harold T. Wiley Intermediate School, Case Middle School, and Watertown High School. Students in the South Jefferson School District are served at School-Based Health Centers at Mannsville Manor Elementary and Wilson Elementary. Students who attend the Clarke Middle/High School at South Jefferson utilize the School-Based Health Centers at either Mannsville or Wilson Elementary. In addition to the six School-Based Health Centers NCFHC also provides school-based dental only services to students at Alexandria Central, Copenhagen Central, Lowville Academy & Central School, and South Lewis Central. In 2017, over 2,000 students utilized the School-Based Health Centers. Currently NCFHC staffs 19 employees within its school-based sites.
“We are very proud of our School-Based Health Centers and our employees who staff our Centers,” comments Joey Marie Horton, Executive Director, North Country Family Health Center. “Having the opportunity to provide care to children right where they are, in school, is critical. Our goal is to help students stay well and avoid school absences – we truly believe that healthy students learn better.”
No student is turned away from the School-Based Health Centers and all services are provided with no out of pocket cost to families. Therefore, health insurance co-pays and deductible do not apply to families. Students are seen for sickness, chronic health issues, annual physical exams, dental services and counseling services to name a few. “As a working parent within the Watertown City School District I utilize the NCFHC School-Based Health Center for my children, who attend South Jefferson schools. It is a fabulous service and I feel confident with my children’s diagnosis. I don’t have to take extra time off from work when my kids are sick because they have the opportunity to be seen right at school, and if my kids need a prescription it is ready to go when I get to the pharmacy,” states Rebecca Sullivan, Physical Education teacher Ohio Street School.
“Our School-Based Health Centers are a great back-up plan for parents. We communicate with student’s primary care provider and coordinate the care they need – whether it is just a cold or a chronic ongoing issue,” states Heather Lupia, School-Based Health Center Administrator. “We enjoy being at the schools and are proud of all the services we can offer students.”
Enrollment in school-based health centers is easy! Parents, or guardians, can visit the North Country Family Health Center’s website, www.NoCoFamilyHealth.org, on the site’s main page under school-based care to sign-up their son or daughter. Anyone needing assistance enrolling their son or daughter can contact the School-Based Health Center Administrator, Heather Lupia, at firstname.lastname@example.org.