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SWCS welcomes healthcare on wheels
|Messenger photo by Dedra Cordle
|After his class finished the tour of the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, eighth grader Vernon Staley relaxes on the patient chair before heading back to class at Finland Middle.
On Jan. 28, a monstrous vehicle rolled into the parking lot at Finland Middle School.
Students pressed their faces against the cafeteria windows to get a better glimpse of the spectacle and with good reason; it looked like something rock stars might use during a tour. While the people inside were not famous, they are hoping to attract the attention of the community.
Each Friday, a physician, nurse and a registration specialist will travel to a middle school in the South-Western City Schools District to provide health care for children in the mobile clinic. This program is the beginning of a new partnership between the district, Nationwide Children's Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House Charities to make health care more accessible for students.
"This is a fully functioning practice," said Dr. Craig Conard, who works in the 40-foot long and eight-foot wide Ronald McDonald Care Mobile (RMCM). "We clean out ears, treat strep throat, do urinalysis testing, and we can test for hemoglobin levels and check glucose."
They also do Tdap vaccinations - which all seventh grade students are required to get - sports physicals, checkups, treat sick students, and connect low-income families or households with no insurance to government aid.
Conard said no one would be denied care.
Cindy Zellefrow, a nurse for South-Western City Schools, believes the RMCM will be a wonderful asset to the district and its surrounding communities.
"This will help lessen the barriers so more children can get the care they need," said Zellefrow.
She said oftentimes, parents are unable to take their kids to the doctors because they are working during office hours, so having the RMCM will ease some of the time conflicts.
This is how the RMCM system works: The school nurse will be the point person. A parent or guardian can call their child's school and request an appointment be made in the RMCM for any number of their services. The school nurse will then set up a time with the RMCM staff and walk the child to the mobile when it is their turn.
In the event the clinic is not close to a nearby school, (e.g. a student at Grove City High School has an appointment and the mobile is at Brookpark that day) the district will be unable to transport them so parents will likely have to do so.
Janice Collette, the district's student services director, said the RMCM would be located at middle schools for the first 6 to 8 weeks because many elementary and intermediate schools are in the vicinity.
She said after the initialization process, the traveling clinic would expand into other instructional levels.
Collette, who is credited with helping to bring the program to the district, said they are hoping to keep the clinic going even when the buildings close during the summer.
"I know they want to stay active in the community and provide for children during that time, but we haven't gotten that far yet," said Collette.
This is not the first time the district has collaborated with businesses to bring health access to students. Nine years ago, they partnered with the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour to bring Christina's Smile, a program that gives free dental care to children in need, to the district.
Zellefrow, who is the district's coordinator for Christina's Smile, said they will be celebrating patient number 1,000 when the program resumes on May 31.
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