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Be mindful of health services as children return to school

My job is one of the best jobs in Garfield County. I am a nurse practitioner and I work in a school based health clinic. Every day when I arrive at my job, I am greeted by this motto on the Grand River Health Student Health Clinic sign outside the Center for Family Learning in Parachute: Healthy Students = Bright Futures. And each time I see it, I reflect on the truth in this simple phrase. If our students are healthy, their futures are bright. And as my grandmother used to say, “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.”

I wonder how many people in Garfield County realize what an advantage the students of Garfield Re-2 and Garfield 16 school districts have over many school districts in Colorado. Yes, there are excellent teachers, staff, coaches and administrators in both school districts who are dedicated to building strong minds and character in your students. These professionals do a wonderful job teaching and nurturing the children in their charge. They are playing a role in assuring each child has a bright future.

But did you know there are nurse practitioners and mental health counselors who are also dedicated to building strong bodies, minds and bright futures in the students of Garfield County school districts 16 and Re-2? Through an operating grant from the Colorado Health Foundation and combined resources from Grand River Health and the school districts, two school-based health clinics, located in Rifle and Parachute, were established. The operating grant has since expired and the school-based health clinics are supported by Grand River Health which is the lead sponsor agency with contributed resources from districts 16 and Re-2.

Each school-based health clinic is staffed by a certified licensed nurse practitioner, a coordinator, a mental health counselor and an off-site physician medical director. Medical services offered at both health clinics include acute illness and injury care, well child checks and physical exams, immunizations, vision and hearing screening, routine lab tests, health promotion counseling, and management of chronic conditions such as asthma, obesity, allergies and diabetes; mental and behavioral health services include individual, group and family counseling. Additional services offered are referrals to community providers and agencies and assistance with enrollment into Medicaid and Child Health Plan Plus. These services are available to any student, faculty or staff of the school district where they attend or work.

The staffs at the Grand River Health Student Health Clinics are committed to providing access to quality, affordable health care to all students, faculty, staff and administrators of Garfield County School Districts 16 and Re-2. Services are provided for a flat $20 fee if the patient does not have health insurance and does not qualify for Medicaid or Child Health Plan Plus. If the patient has insurance, the insurance company will be billed. A co-pay or deductible may be collected at time of services if required by the insurance company. No one will be denied services due to inability to pay.

If you are a parent of a child who attends either school district, watch for information about the Grand River Health Student Health Clinics in your child’s back-to-school package and at the back-to-school events. A consent form and information sheet must be completed and signed by a parent or guardian. After this is done, the student may use the student center at any time while attending school in the district.

Appointments can be made by calling 970-285-5719 for the Parachute clinic, or 970-665-7922 for the Rifle clinic. Appointments are encouraged, but walk in patients are welcome. The Grand River Health Student Health Clinic in Parachute is located in the Center for Family Learning, 100 E. Second St. in Parachute and serves school district 16. The Grand River Health Student Health Clinic in Rifle is located in the old CMC building at 703 Railroad Ave. in Rifle and serves Garfield Re-2.

To learn more about the school based health clinics in Garfield County, you can contact the clinics at the numbers listed above or Malinda West, Grand River Health Clinic Manager at 970-625-6218. Meri Nofzinger, principal of the Center for Family Learning, is the District 16 contact person. You can contact her at 970-285-5702. Theresa Hamilton is the Re-2 contact person and she can be reached at 970-665-7621.

School based health clinics are being established across the nation and in Colorado. These health clinics have proven to be beneficial to communities because they offer children access to healthcare they might otherwise not be able to get. School based health clinics are able to offer inexpensive health care to students, faculty and staff.

The statistics show school based health centers allow students to stay in school and parents not miss as much work due to illness and taking children to healthcare visits. Garfield County is very fortunate to have two school-based Clinics. Many counties are not as fortunate. Our children are our future. They deserve healthy minds, bodies and bright futures.

Anne Galloway, RN, FNP, is a certified family nurse practitioner at the Grand River Student Health Center in Parachute. She can be at 970-285-5719.


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