PSD, hospi­tal part­ner­ing for nurse prac­ti­tioner pi­lot

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Kevin Myrick [email protected]­stan­dard­jour­nal. com

Floyd-Polk Med­i­cal Cen­ter and the Polk School District are part­ner­ing to­gether for a new pro­gram start­ing in the 2019-2020 year in hopes of in­creas­ing the well­ness of stu­dents and staff at cam­puses in Cedar­town and Rock­mart.

Dan Bevels, the Pub­lic Re­la­tions man­ager for Floyd and Polk Med­i­cal Cen­ter was joined by Chris Bul­ter, the Di­rec­tor of Cor­po­rate Health for Floyd and Polk Med­i­cal Cen­ters, and Polk Med­i­cal Cen­ter Hospi­tal Ad­min­is­tra­tor and Chief Nurs­ing Of­fi­cer Ti­fani Ki­nard all came to talk about the plans for to pro­vide a Nurse Prac­ti­tioner within the district that will move from school to school on a monthly ba­sis.

The ul­ti­mate goal ac­cord­ing to Bevels is to es­tab­lish healthy liv­ing habits as early as pos­si­ble and maybe one day get Polk County res­i­dents to treat well­ness vis­its the same way they do a trip to the den­tist twice a year.

Bul­ter laid out the idea of the pro­gram is to give stu­dents and staff within the schools alike the op­por­tu­nity to see a nurse prac­ti­tioner sta­tioned in a school for a month per school, and ro­tate through­out all the cam­puses within the Polk School District.

“I’m go­ing to say that it is pri­mary care-like, be­cause it’s not go­ing to be a fully func­tion­ing pri­mary care of­fice but prob­a­bly about 90 per­cent,” Butler said.

Their main pur­pose is to pro­vide ser­vices to “unat­tached kids and staff mem­bers” to help pro­vide health care ser­vices that usu­ally a pri­mary care physi­cian or pe­di­a­tri­cian would han­dle. Butler said those who have a doc­tor they see reg­u­larly can uti­lize ser­vices, but it won’t re­place their physi­cian.

“This is to pro­vide easy, con­ve­nient ac­cess for stu­dents and staff mem­bers to re­ceive well­ness ex­ams, if they’re sick they can come see us for flu or strep throat,” he said.

Butler said he knows that par­ents might be re­luc­tant to let their chil­dren see a health­care pro­fes­sional with­out them be­ing present, but he also takes into ac­count that be­cause of their busy sched­ules at work it isn’t easy get­ting stu­dents into the doc­tor’s of­fice.

“We know this com­mu­nity is built around blue col­lar work­ers, most of the man­u­fac­tur­ing here is pro­duc­tiv­ity-based,” Butler said. “When you’re deal­ing with pro­duc­tiv­ity-based, it’s re­ally hard to take a day off work to take your child to have a well­ness exam. What we want to do is try to cre­ate a well­ness visit sim­i­lar to a den­tal visit. Nowa­days you go to the den­tist at least ev­ery six months. We want to cre­ate that same habit.”

Butler said the well­ness vis­its mat­ter, be­cause peo­ple might as­sume they are healthy and ev­ery­thing in their bod­ies is work­ing the way it should though have un­der­ly­ing is­sues that can turn into real prob­lems later in life.

“We looked at our re­cent data in Floyd Pri­mary Care and we no­ticed that from ages 10 to 39, peo­ple stop see­ing a pri­mary care doc­tor,” he said. “They’ll go to an ur­gent care in­stead. If I get sick, I don’t want to sched­ule an ap­point­ment I want to go to ur­gent care and get Amox­i­cillin or get a shot. I want to feel bet­ter. But we need that type of main­te­nance. We need some­one to look over us reg­u­larly.”

He added that in­stead of billing par­ents or school staff di­rectly for ser­vices, vis­its to the nurse prac­ti­tioner via the pi­lot pro­gram ei­ther for a well­ness visit will be billed to pri­vate or gov­ern­ment in­sur­ance providers like Med­i­caid with­out pa­tients get­ting an im­me­di­ate bill. Un­der the Af­ford­able Care Act rules, one well­ness visit per year is cov­ered by in­sur­ance with­out cost to the pa­tient.

No de­ci­sion has yet been made on how they will han­dle stu­dents or staff with­out any in­sur­ance cov­er­age.

Bevels talked about the part­ner­ship al­ready in place with the school district that pro­vides nurses through the hospi­tal to each el­e­men­tary, mid­dle and high school cam­pus through­out the year. The new pi­lot pro­gram seeks to in­crease the level of health care ac­cess within schools for stu­dents and staff alike and will be avail­able be­fore and af­ter school hours as well. Floyd Health­care Man­age­ment also pro­vides the district with ath­letic train­ers for both Cedar­town and Rock­mart High and Mid­dle School sports pro­grams.

The new pi­lot is set to be part of an over­all mis­sion of hospi­tal of­fi­cials via the Live Well Polk pro­gram to in­crease health aware­ness, ac­ces­si­bil­ity and uti­liza­tion of ser­vices through­out the county. Bevels cited their ini­tial push of the pro­gram into the Polk was due to health scores com­ing in first or sec­ond in a num­ber of prob­lem­atic ar­eas, like the rates of heart dis­ease, can­cers, di­a­betes and many more ail­ments trend­ing up­ward more than any of the other sur­round­ing coun­ties.

“In this sit­u­a­tion, it’s not good to be first or sec­ond place in car­dio­vas­cu­lar is­sues like high blood pres­sure, a va­ri­ety of types of cancer, obe­sity, and seden­tary life­style,” he said. “Polk ranked higher in all of those is­sues.”

As­sis­tant Su­per­in­ten­dent and Col­lege and Ca­reer Academy CEO Katie Thomas said the district al­ready has a big need from the pro­gram: help in en­sur­ing stu­dent health is­sues are be­ing ad­dressed be­fore they snow­ball into big­ger is­sues.

“The num­ber one thing we’re see­ing that we need is vac­ci­na­tions need up­dat­ing,” Thomas said.

As­sis­tant Su­per­in­ten­dent Greg Teems added that at least one school re­quired letters sent home to more than 30 par­ents who faced their chil­dren be­ing left out of en­roll­ment for the com­ing year if shots weren’t up­dated im­me­di­ately.

The hope is that with a nurse prac­ti­tioner in place on a ro­tat­ing ba­sis at each school, the district will be able to bet­ter con­trol is­sues like vac­ci­na­tion by avoid­ing chil­dren hav­ing to leave school to go to a doc­tor for a shot. In­stead, a time could be sched­uled be­fore, dur­ing or af­ter school hours to take care of the needed up­dates.

Butler said the hospi­tal is cur­rently re­cruit­ing a nurse prac­ti­tioner to be the main force be­hind the pi­lot pro­gram for the com­ing school year, with a re­quire­ment they are able to work for the 180day cal­en­dar. A lo­cal physi­cian is also be­ing sought out to act as med­i­cal di­rec­tor for the pi­lot.

“We’re hop­ing to be ready to go by Sept. 2,” Butler said.

Butler added test­ing will be re­quired dur­ing the sum­mer months and space at the cen­tral of­fice might need to be bor­rowed for that pur­pose ahead of stu­dents com­ing to school.

School board mem­bers did ask if the nurse prac­ti­tioner will have the abil­ity to write pre­scrip­tions, and the team that came to dis­cuss the pro­gram did say they would but only in cases where stu­dents or staff mem­bers need medicine like Tam­i­flu or to clear up an in­fec­tion.

Ini­tially, Butler said the pro­gram was slated to be tested out with Rome City Schools via a part­ner­ship with Emory Univer­sity and that looks to be started some­time in 2020.

“When we re­al­ized it wasn’t go­ing to work as quickly with as we thought it might with Rome, Ti­fani (Ki­nard) and I worked quickly to jump on that loose ball,” Bevels said. “Hon­estly, wher­ever we go when we talk about ed­u­ca­tion we talk about how for­ward think­ing Polk School District is and lo­cal lead­er­ship has done a ter­rific job of touch­ing on ev­ery­thing a stu­dent needs. We’re thrilled to be in­volved in this.”

City Man­ager Jeff El­lis (cen­ter) is one of two of Rock­mart’s man­age­ment team get­ting a raise this year.

Floyd — Polk Med­i­cal Cen­ter’s Dan Bevels, Ti­fani Ki­nard and Chris Butler were on hand to talk about a new nurse prac­ti­tioner pi­lot pro­gram start­ing this fall in the Polk School District.

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