OPS approves medical services agreement with Audubon Area

Aug. 12—Owensboro Public Schools approved a medical services agreement with Audubon Area Community Care Clinic during Thursday's luncheon for an incoming school-based health center program that will offer on-site health services in all schools.

According to the agreement, Audubon will provide primary health care services "for the benefit and well-being of the students, teachers and staff of the school district at its various school sites."

"We couldn't be more excited about the future partnership with this," said Matthew Constant, OPS superintendent. "We feel like it's going to be a game changer for our kids and our families in terms of really taking care of the whole child from the medical services, the mental services and the academic services that we can provide kids."

Brandon Harley, deputy chief executive officer for Audubon Area Community Services, said discussions about the agreement have been ongoing for a couple months.

"(We've been) trying to figure out what the exact needs are from Owensboro Public Schools and trying to figure out where we're at," he said. "...Children need all sorts of (things) — they need education, they need safety, they need good food, they need supportive services; but they also need healthcare and healthcare options."

Constant echoed Harley's observations and said that "so many variables impact how kids do in a classroom."

"The education of 50 years ago, we were pretty much only concerned with (what happens) from 8 (a.m.) to 3 (p.m.) (and) what happens inside that school building when the child is there," he said. "But as we know, so many mitigating factors go into the education of a child from ... something at home to their healthcare."

The agreement is a one-year contract and will roll out during the fall semester.

Harley said they are looking to recruit a full-time duly licensed or credentialed health care provider, such as a nurse practitioner, who will provide health care services, vaccinations, examinations, health care education and other related services during normal school hours throughout the year to students, teachers and staff.

Constant and Harley said half of the salary of the employee will be paid by the school administration via Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds.

Harley said Audubon will also use its certified medical assistants and other care coordinators to help out and will collaborate with the existing OPS health care staff.

Some of the care that will be provided will include primary care such as acute visits, VFC immunizations, adult immunizations for uninsured and underinsured, physical exams, annual wellness visits, well-child checks and sports physicals.

Telehealth services will be provided for initial diagnosis visits before having Audubon staff dispatched to provide face-to-face health services, if needed, in a dedicated health tech room in each school.

Additional services will include TB skin tests for staff and students, standing orders for nursing staff and mental health services with a counselor on staff and a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner on contract.

All insurance will be accepted, but Harley said if a student does not have Medicaid or private insurance, a sliding fee scale can be approved by the clinic's board of directors.

Students will be assessed for a nominal fee, though services will be rendered regardless, Harley said.

Harley said that parents will also be able to use the services.

The hope with this program, said Constant, is to keep student attendance and performance consistent while also teaching them valuable tools for the future.

"We believe that it will keep kids in school longer, we'll be able to service their academic needs better and will be able to teach them preventive health care needs, which will reward them all through their lives," he said.