With the goals of keep students healthy and in the classroom, the SBHC educates and empowers teens to make healthy lifestyle choices while supporting local families by working collaboratively with students, parents, doctors and the Winchendon Public Schools.
Renée Boucher, RN, MSN, FNP-C is the primary care provider for the SBHC. She works closely with the Murdock school nurse, but as a Family Nurse Practitioner, Boucher can provide next-level care for illness and injuries that would normally be beyond the scope of school nursing staff members. “Students can see me for a variety of illnesses or injuries, and I am able to provide treatment or make the decision that the student should be seen by his/her primary care doctor, or in emergencies, be taken to the hospital,” stated Boucher. “Having these services onsite is extremely helpful for parents. I can make the determination of what treatment the student requires without having the parent leave work to come pick up the child. Most of the time, we can treat the student and get him/her back to class, missing only minutes of class as opposed to the rest of the school day.”
The SBHC can provide treatment for acute & chronic illnesses, asthma, headaches, sinus infections, skin rashes and sore throats. Medication is prescribed when needed. Boucher can also see students for preventive health care, sports physicals and reproductive health services when necessary. Additionally, oral health screenings, fluoride varnishes and other services include classroom education and hosting special programs and guest speakers are offered.
Beyond basic primary care, the SBHC is able to offer onsite mental health services along with individual emotional support services when needed. For rural communities such as Winchendon, many families who have a child requiring behavioral health services must travel for weekly appointments, taking the child out of school and the parent away from work. At the SBHC, students can take part in group workshops on topics such as anger management (self-control or controlling emotions), motivational/
Students may drop in to see the Nurse Practitioner at the Health Center or make an appointment. Visits can also be scheduled with a referral from a guidance counselor, teacher or the school nurse. Parents or guardians may also contact the Health Center and speak to the NP if they would like their son or daughter to be seen.
The SBHC has been able to identify the needs of its students through a comprehensive assessment process. Over 1,000 student assessment questionnaires are conducted annually with referral and action plans developed to assist students and families to meet their personal needs. The value and need for services continue to grow, with volume increasing by 200 visits annually over the past two years. Boucher provides over 800 screenings a year to middle and high school students. She also serves as a resource to the school community serving on the student support team, and is a certified Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) instructor, a program designed to help recognize the warning signs of suicide, know how to offer hope, know how to get help and save a life.
All these services are free to students, and insurance companies will be billed for appropriate services. For families who are uninsured or under-insured, Cindy Rivers, Administrative Assistant for the SBHC, steps in to connect families with Heywood Hospital’s Patient Financial Services Department. In addition to dealing with billing and referrals, Cindy oversees all the scheduling and electronic medical records for the SBHC. She recently started a Facebook page for the SBHC to keep students and families better informed. “I like to share relevant health and wellness news with the kids and their families. When we are offering special services, we can use our Facebook page to promote it,” said Cindy. Social media is a great way for us to reach our students through sites they already visit every day.”
Services are provided thanks to generous grant-funding received from the Health Foundation of Central Mass, Kresge Foundation & The Greater Worcester Community Foundation and the support of The Robinson Broadhurst Foundation, Heywood Hospital, Winchendon Public Schools and Annie Evans White Foundation.
About Heywood Healthcare
Heywood Healthcare is an independent, community-owned healthcare system located in the North Central region of Massachusetts. It is comprised of Heywood Hospital, a non-profit, 135-bed acute-care hospital in Gardner, MA; Athol Hospital, a 25 bed not-for-profit, Critical Access Hospital in Athol, MA; Heywood Medical Group with primary care physicians and specialists located throughout the region; and four satellite facilities -Winchendon Health Center and Murdock School-based Health Center in Winchendon, West River Health Center in Orange and Heywood Rehabilitation Center in Gardner.
About Heywood Hospital
Part of the Heywood Healthcare system, Heywood Hospital is a 153-bed acute care hospital in Gardner, MA, which provides a broad range of high quality medical, surgical, obstetrical, pediatric and behavioral health services on an inpatient and outpatient basis. The hospital’s Centers of Excellence include the Watkins Center for Emergency and Acute Care; the LaChance Maternity Center; the Diabetes Center; and the Heywood Heart Center, an affiliate of the Heart and Vascular Center of Excellence at UMass Memorial Health Care.