By Linda Dillman
Nationwide Children’s Hospital will bring its services to the Hamilton Local School District via a mobile clinic in an effort to address the health care needs of the community’s student population.
Starting Sept. 17, the mobile unit will visit the high school building. On Oct. 1, the unit makes its first visit to the elementary, intermediate, and middle school buildings. Hamilton Schools Public Relations Director Kaitlin Duncan said the mobile unit will be on campus twice a month on Fridays until the end of the school year.
The hospital outreach program is a result of discussions between the district and NCH when the school district started scheduling vaccination clinics at the high school last winter. The mobile health care service runs through the end of the school year.
“Michelle, the NCH employee that runs the mobile units, reached out and asked us if there was a need for it,” said Duncan. “After the first couple of sessions, we will re-evaluate where the biggest need is and determine where the mobile unit should visit more. Michelle actually grew up just south of us and went to Teays Valley, so she knows the surrounding area and is working hard to get the mobile units covering the area more south of Columbus.”
Services are the same for each campus area and include pediatric primary care such as checkups, treating asthma, assisting with work permit physicals, and more. The services are not meant to replace a student’s normal health care provider, but to help when families cannot make it to see a pediatrician or family doctor.
Students can request appointments through the school nurse to be seen for whatever they need. They can do this ahead of time if they know the mobile unit is coming to their campus, or they can do this the day they need to be seen.
Duncan said the visits are typically covered by family insurance. However, no student will be turned away from the mobile unit for lack of insurance or funding.
“If they don’t have insurance or struggle financially, NCH will work with the families on a solution for the student,” said Duncan. “The mobile unit can do a follow-up the next time they are on campus, or they will recommend them to a pediatrician’s office. We know that not everyone in our community has access to the best health care, or even the ability to see a doctor regularly. We wanted to provide the mobile unit to make it easier for families to get the care they need, and to keep our students healthy.”
According to Duncan, school nurse Chelsea Snider, a class of 2010 Hamilton Township alumni, has been very hands-on with the project and also worked at Nationwide Children’s Hospital for seven years before she joined the district staff.