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Local school-based health centers get $52,975 in federal funds

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced $52,975 in grants for school-based health centers in Jefferson County.

A $39,105 award will be given to the North Country Children’s Clinic, 238 Arsenal St., and a $13,870 award will be given to Carthage Area Hospital.

Children’s Clinic interim Executive Director Janice L. Charles, who is also an agency cofounder, said the Children’s Clinic’s award will be used to purchase updated equipment for school-based health centers throughout the Watertown City and South Jefferson Central school districts.

“Some of it is probably to replace things that are wearing out,” Mrs. Charles said. “Some of these things don’t last a long time, particularly when they’re getting a lot of use in a clinical setting.”

Unsure what specific equipment was going to which Children’s Clinic school-based health centers, Mrs. Charles said the following equipment will be purchased: an electronic blood pressure machine, and ear-flushing system, digital scales, scopes, exam tables with storage, thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, laptops, flash drives, copier stands, lockable file cabinets, a digital camera, a phone system, refrigerators and a portable DVD player, among dozens of other items.

“This is federal money, and so this is extra funds,” Mrs. Charles said. “It’s not a part of our regular grant. This is a real plus.”

She said registered nurse Jacqueline E. Lavarnway, who retired in June after 22 years as a school nurse for the Watertown City School District, recently came on board as director of school-based health center programs. As a former Case Middle School nurse, Mrs. Lavarnway is familiar with school-based health center operations, as there was one within that school.

While the federal funds will be used to support medical programs for those school-based health centers, Carthage Area Hospital’s award will be used to upgrade servers and purchase computers for its school-based health centers’ dental programs.

“It’ll provide real-time access to charts while providers are seeing patients,” said Richard A. Duvall, chief operating officer. “It’ll be shared amongst all (clinics). The dental clinic is only open for certain time periods and it rotates between school districts.”

Carthage Area Hospital-run school-based health centers now run part-time in Carthage Elementary; South Lewis Central, Turin; Edwards-Knox Central, Russell; Harrisville Central; LaFargeville Central; and Thousand Islands Central, Clayton. Full-time school-based health centers are open in Carthage Middle School, Carthage High School and Beaver River Central, Beaver Falls.

The grant award, Mr. Duvall said, provides better dental services to underserved populations, particularly for Edwards-Knox Central, because students’ access to other dental services is limited.

The two north country awards are a part of more than $80 million to 197 school-based health center programs throughout the country. According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services news release, the grant awards were made possible by the Affordable Care Act and will “continue the expansion of preventive and primary health-care services.”

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