Checking Into The Doctor's Office At School

Mound STEM School (Courtesy CMSD)
Mound STEM School (Courtesy CMSD)
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Remember going to the school nurse as a kid? You might have had a cold or the first signs of flu, or maybe an upset stomach… The nurse took your temperature and - if it was high - she called a parent to take you home.

Public school nurses do more now, they offer asthma treatments and help administer a child's previously prescribed medicine - but they still can't diagnose or write their own prescriptions. They need a doctor for that. And that's exactly what is coming to the Mound-STEM School in Slavic Village, where the county-run MetroHealth System, is opening its first school-based health center

The center will be open one day a week at the school, which has students in pre-K through 8th grade. A MetroHealth doctor and nurse will work with the school nurse to provide appointments for annual check-ups and immunizations. They'll also help students manage chronic illnesses such as asthma and diabetes.

Cleveland Metropolitan School District Chief Executive Eric Gordon said he expects the care to lead to a better school report card in a district that is struggling to meet state academic standards.

"Having one day a week where we can ensure kids are actually accessing high-quality health care is really meaningful for kids who otherwise often only access healthcare through emergency services and only when they have an acute need. So we would expect that over the course of two years, we would see a much healthier student population which means they attend more, are more prepared to learn and we would see academic outcomes improved," Gordon says.

The district and MetroHealth plan to open as many as 20 such school-based health centers in the next two years.

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