The KidCare Connection mobile health van has a regular weekly route where they visit a different Pittsburg public school each day, but they are working to find a way to visit Southeast and other neighboring districts when Pittsburg has no school. The health van is a service of the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas (CHC-SEK) and was in Frontenac last week, and on Monday, they were at Southeast Junior High and Southeast High School.
CHC-SEK usually goes to area enrollments and provides immunizations to both students and staff for no out of pocket costs. They take whatever insurance is available but copays are written off. If a child has no insurance, they are still treated.
At this year’s Southeast enrollment, so many people took advantage of the service they ran out of some immunizations. At that time parents were allowed to fill out the proper paperwork so that when the van eventually came back, all they have to do is get the child out of class, do the vaccine, and the student goes right back to class. More than 20 Southeast students were already listed to be seen.
“They called me and said ‘Susan, Pittsburg doesn’t have school on October 17th, would you like us to come to your buildings?’ and I said ‘Yes!’ – I was very eager,” said Susan Bole, the Southeast district nurse. “I’d like for them to come out all of the time.”
In addition to immunizations and physicals, staff with the health van can also check basic illnesses like sore throat and ears.
“Basically, when we go out to the schools we’re trying to make sure the kids are healthy and ready to learn, that we can treat something and either get them back to class or get onto like an ear infection or strep throat really fast so that they can get treated,” said Cheryl Rajotte, a nurse practitioner with CHC-SEK. “We’re here to help.”
Nurse Rajotte noted that while they see a higher percentage of students on Medicaid in some communities, at Southeast they have seen a high percentage of families who have commercial insurance since many parents work in neighboring communities. To get their child a sports physical or immunization at a doctor’s office or hospital, a Southeast parent working in Pittsburg has to take time off work, go to the school to get their child, take them back into Pittsburg for an appointment, take the child back to school, then go back to work.
The mobile health van eliminates that.
“It’s as easy as filling out paperwork and sending their kid to school,” Nurse Susan said.
“It’s a great benefit for those families,” Nurse Rajotte said.
Rajotte also said they have discovered students are not the only ones taking advantage of the service.
“We see as many staff as kids in Pittsburg because the staff can run out on their planning period and get taken care instead of doing it after work,” Nurse Rajotte said.
“They don’t have to take off from work, they can come in to their workplace, fill out some paperwork then run out and get their immunization – most of them are getting the influenza vaccine – so they’re able to do that, not miss any time from work, we don’t have to get a sub, somebody just goes fill in at their classroom for a few minutes,” Nurse Susan added. “Plus they’re getting the influenza vaccine which will hopefully prevent them from missing out any more time.”
Nurse Rajotte said they are working to compare district calendars for area school districts and hope to return in the Spring, and continue the service next year.
“I’d love to do it more often,” Nurse Susan said. “Any days they can come to my buildings I’d be happy.”