School nurses have been a welcome sight to ill-feeling students for a long time. Now, consideration is being given by officials with the Hannibal public school district to expand the health-care services that are provided on campus.
Superintendent Susan Johnson is quick to note that the school district is not moving beyond its mission of providing a quality education to youngsters.
"This would be a district initiative in which the school district would develop a memorandum of understanding with an individual health provider or multiple health providers," she said. "Any services to be provided would be in alignment with board policy."
Johnson said it would be premature to speculate on exactly what types of services might be offered.
"Those details are being discussed," she said.
If the health-care program gets off the ground, services would not only be offered to students, but to families and school district staff members. Payment for services would not be covered by the school district, but made through the patient’s "personal insurance, Medicaid, etc.," according to Johnson.
Establishing a health-care outreach would not drain dollars intended for education.
"Other school districts in the state have shared that the only costs to the school district would be preparation of the school clinic facility," said the superintendent.
Potential sites for the on-campus "clinic" are being explored.
"Several options have been discussed," said Johnson. "Whichever option is determined, safety and accessibility will need to be considered."
How patients would reach the care site, especially those not old enough to drive, is one of the program’s facets that still needs to be determined.
Johnson is intrigued with the program because it has the potential of providing easier access to health-care for those not feeling 100 percent.
"The biggest benefit is making health care readily accessible on school campus to all students, their families and school district staff," she said. "Healthy students have better student achievement and better attendance. Healthy staff have better attendance."
A handful of Missouri school districts — Jennings, North Kansas City, Carl Junction, Webb City ad Neosho — already offer health-care programs like the one under consideration in Hannibal.
While still in research mode, Johnson thus far likes what she has heard from other school districts where the initiative has already been launched.
"This is an exciting possibility, but one that requires a great deal of collaboration and decision-making," she said. "I think it is exciting to create opportunities to help our students and families be as successful as possible. Hannibal has always been a collaborative community and this could be an initiative that could set our town apart from others."
Reach reporter Danny Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org