HOBART | An awning hangs outside the entrance to door No. 11 at Hobart High School announcing the newest partnership with St. Mary Medical Center.
Today is the grand opening of Brickie Community Health Clinic, a health center at the high school. It is designed to serve the School City of Hobart's entire student population and staff.
The clinic will occupy space formerly used by the athletic trainer, whose office was relocated, Superintendent Peggy Buffington said.
"It was a very natural progression," she said. "It was already set up to provide health care."
It has an external entrance and no access to inside the school, she said.
After a little renovation, the clinic was shaped into a space that resembles a dorm room or living room, where students will feel comfortable, said Julie Burk, family nurse practitioner who will staff the clinic with Samantha Rice, a medical assistant.
The idea for the clinic has been bounced around the last few years but gained momentum this year.
By law, hospitals have to conduct a community health needs assessment to ensure they are addressing issues affecting communities they serve.
This partnership is a way of reaching out to the community and help meet their needs, said Janice Ryba, CEO of St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart.
“The Brickie Community Health Clinic will not only provide easy access to needed health services, it will allow us to provide education, preventive medicine and prompt attention to medical needs when they first appear – before they develop into more serious conditions," she said.
The hospital and school are working to reduce obesity and diabetes; they have a longtime partnership in prevention education.
The new clinic is being funded by the hospital, as a service of the Community Care Network, in partnership with the high school.
Bringing health care to students is increasingly common.
"There is a large national trend to bring these services to a school-based clinic," Ryba said.
Nurses and certified nursing assistants work in all of the School City of Hobart buildings, and they will remain the initial point of contact, Buffington said.
As long as a parent consent form is on file, high school students can visit the Brickie clinic on their own, but younger children must have a guardian with them, Buffington said.
Services offered through the clinic include physical exams, risk prevention counseling, immunizations, blood draws, crisis intervention, urinalysis, glucose tests and diagnosis and management of acute and chronic illnesses and diseases.
The clinic accepts appointments and walk-in clients.
It is not an urgent care center and is not designed to replace a child's regular primary care provider, although it offers primary care services.
It will accept private insurance. Uninsured children will be billed under a self-pay policy. The clinic can assist in Medicaid enrollment.