About two months after sending out Requests for Proposals for on-site medical and clinical services, the Lamar County School Board of Trustees has approved Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative to provide that service.
That decision was made at the March 7 school board meeting, when officials said although the district does have nurses currently on campus, on-site offerings are sorely needed, as Lamar County is one of the only school districts in the area that does not provide those services.
“As we kind of had conversations about several other school districts that offer clinical services on campuses for students … we went through a thorough process of selecting a service provider,” district superintendent Steven Hampton said. “Through that process, SeMRHI ended up being the one (the board) selected.
“It was just their experience in other school districts, and what they brought to the table. The totality of their services that they can provide our students was impressive.”
The measure is expected to start in July. SeMRHI already has physical clinics in Sumrall and Lumberton, and is looking at off-site locations in Purvis and Oak Grove.
Under the new agreement, SeMRHI will send nurses to the various schools throughout the Lamar County School District. Nurse practitioners will be able to perform screenings and other measures.
“They won’t be there every day, but they will provide nurse practitioners who will be able to give that extra level of care,” Hampton said. “We have registered nurses on our campuses, but there’s only certain things they can provide our students.
“So they’ll work as a supplement to our nurses that we have now, and we’ll be able to provide them with extra services as needed.”
On-site services will go a little above and beyond what the current school nurses are able to provide, such as the ability to prescribe medication.
“They basically are there to refer and go to another doctor,” Hampton said in a previous story. (It would be) refilling prescriptions … and diagnoses, because (our nurses) can’t diagnose and prescribe medication.
“It’s nothing major; it’s just light medical services for our students and staff. At this point, we don’t have any dedicated buildings or anything like that – that’s something whoever gets the proposal would have to work out.”
If all goes according to plan, the services would be offered at least one day per week.
“It goes to attendance, mainly – if we can provide services where children don’t have to check out and go to a hospital or doctors for a sore throat or this that and the other, it allows us to keep them in school,” Hampton said. “Also … when the teachers have to be out due to being sick or normal illnesses to go to doctor’s appointments, they’re out as well, and students aren’t learning as (much).
“We have a certain population of our students whose parents can’t take off work to take them to clinics to get their eyes checked or things like that. So we have a need, and we’re trying to meet that need to be able to provide, so that we can better educate and keep our kids in school as much as possible.”