AJH Clinic one of 12 in state

Published 6:00 am Monday, January 20, 2003

A new health clinic has opened at Alexander Junior High Schoolto benefit the students as well as all Medicaid-eligible school agechildren in Lincoln County.

The health clinic was made possible through funding from theMississippi Division of Medicaid for the Early and PeriodicScreening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) program.

“This is a pilot program. We’re one of 12 schools in the statethat have started this,” said Scott Merrell, assistantprincipal.

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EPSDT is a free health care program to provide a way forchildren to get the medical exams, check-ups, follow-up treatmentand special care they need to remain healthy.

“Health check-ups can identify health problems before they causeserious illness and promote good health in the future,” said CindyWilson, the registered nurse heading up the clinic. “I believe ifthey’re healthy, they will do good in school.”

An EPSDT examination includes a complete physical, hearing andvision screening, any needed shots, blood tests, urine tests andnutritional evaluation, developmental assessment and dentalscreening once a year.

The exams will start with AJH students, then reach otherstudents in the Brookhaven School District and Lincoln CountySchool District.

Studies have shown that children of working parents often don’treceive the necessary health care because of the stress it can puton parents to take time off from work. Medicaid opted to offer theprogram through the school systems in an effort to aid parents.

Approximately 1,300 Medicaid eligible children in the Brookhavenarea have not had a physical to assess their health needs, Wilsonsaid.

Not only will the health clinic offer those services, but itwill also serve all students at the school as the nurse’soffice.

“If a student doesn’t feel well, they can be taken care ofwithout their parents having to take off work and take them to thedoctor,” said Principal LeVander German.

The clinic will be open the majority of every school day and onsome Saturdays, as needed.

Education officials were glad to be able to use an old sciencelab at the school to provide the necessary space for three examrooms, one office, a waiting room, storage area and bathroom forthe health clinic. It resembles a doctor’s office on a smallerscale, complete with educational posters, a weigh scale and heightchart.

“This is taking a space that was not functional and using it forsomething that serves the community,” said Superintendent Dr. SamBounds as he toured the facility during an open house lastweek.

Although she has only been in the health clinic for a shortperiod, Wilson is enjoying the more open space compared to theschool’s conference room where she was housed during constructionof the clinic.

She is eager to find more ways to help students start andmaintain healthy lifestyles.

“I enjoy it, and I really love this age group. I think I canmake a difference,” she said.