On Friday, December 14, 2018, North Country Family Health Center (NCFHC) staff and local political and school representatives will celebrate the NCFHC’s 25th year of providing healthcare to students at their School-Based Health Center at North Elementary, 171 East Hoard Street, Watertown. A celebration will be held for all staff from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
On November 30, 1993, NCFHC, then North Country Children’s Clinic, opened its first School-Based Health Center (SBHC) at North Elementary. The Watertown Board of Education passed a resolution in February 1993 to establish the SBHC at North Elementary as well as two others – a dental and a medical center at Watertown High School. The North Elementary SBHC was initially scheduled to open in the fall of 1993 in time for the start of the school year but delays with approval from the Department of Health eventually lead to the opening of the SBHC at the end of November 1993. The North Elementary SBHC was designed to serve school children from Starbuck and Meade Elementary (now closed), as well as North, and initially over 550 children registered to utilize the SBHC’s services. North SBHC now provides care to all Watertown City School District elementary students. The district provides transportation to the SBHC for students from the Ohio, Sherman, Starbuck, and Knickerbocker buildings. The Northern New York Community Foundation was instrumental in helping to fund the start-up costs of NCFHC’s first SBHC with a $10,000 grant.
“We are proud to have been on the forefront of school-based care delivery by opening the first fulltime School-Based Health Center in our region at North Elementary School. SBHCs break down barriers to care – keeping parents at work and children in school. We now provide integrated medical, behavioral health, and dental services to over 3,200 students per year within the Watertown and South Jefferson Central School Districts. In addition, we serve another 500 students through our mobile School-Based Dental Programs,” states Joey Marie Horton, Executive Director, North Country Family Health Center.
Currently, NCFHC operates six comprehensive SBHCs that provide integrated medical and behavioral health services in the Watertown City and South Jefferson school districts. (North Elementary, H.T.Wiley, Case Middle School, Watertown High School, Mannsville Manor Elementary, and Maynard P. Wilson Elementary) Four of which have integrated onsite dental services – North Elementary, H.T. Wiley, Mannsville Manor Elementary, and Maynard P.Wilson Elementary. In addition to these sites, NCFHC operates school-based dental only sites at Alexandria Central School, Copenhagen Central School, Jefferson-Lewis BOCES (ACES Program), Lowville Academy & Central School, Lyme Central School, Ohio Elementary in the Watertown City School District, Clarke Middle/High School in the South Jefferson School District, and Glenfield Elementary, Port Lyden Elementary, and South Lewis Middle/High School in the South Lewis School District.
“We are grateful to North Country Family Health Center for providing our students high quality, affordable, and convenient healthcare services,” states Patricia LaBarr, Superintendent, Watertown City School District. “The service is convenient for both parents and teachers when students get sick in school. Staff at the health centers take the time to know and work with the students and their parents. We know that when students are healthy they come to school ready to learn,” states Ms. LaBarr.
No student is turned away from the SBHC – students are seen for sickness, chronic health issues, annual physical exams, dental services, and counseling services to name a few. All services are provided with no out-of-pocket cost for services provided within the SBHC, including co-pays and deductibles, to families.