Health clinic at elementary school acts as 'safety net' for uninsured students Corporate funding supports facility

January 28, 1998|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,SUN STAFF

A health clinic opened at Carter Godwin Woodson Elementary School yesterday in the belief that healthier students will have better success in school.

Two corporations -- NationsBank and Helix Health -- have underwritten the school health center, through donations of staff time and money.

The clinic targets students whose families have no health insurance and no pediatrician.

"We consider ourselves a safety net," said Gerry Waterfield, a city Health Department official who overseas the school health centers.

School nurses see children with chronic illnesses who could be treated more effectively, said nurse practitioner Patricia Underland. One of the most common ailments, she said, is asthma. Before the health center was started, many parents felt uncomfortable sending their asthmatic child to school knowing no school nurse was on duty if the child had an attack, she said.

But with the new center, children can receive treatment on a regular basis. Helix has donated the services of a Helix doctor four hours a week. In addition, contributions will pay Underland's salary for 20 hours a week.

The clinic will be open every day, staffed by medical personnel when the doctor or nurse aren't there.

"Where do you go if you want to bring health care to the child? You don't go to the hospitals, you go to the neighborhoods," said William Thomas, senior vice president of medical affairs and clinical integration at Helix Health.

The first health clinics in schools were started by the Baltimore Health Department in 1985. The city operates seven centers, but the Carter Woodson school center is the first to be supported by ZTC corporate donations. NationsBank has given $100,000 this year and promised similar contributions for several years.

Pub Date: 1/28/98

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