Would partner with medical, dental providers regardless of income or insurance
A proposed school-based wellness center for Rappahannock County that would partner with local medical, dental and mental health providers regardless of income level or insurance has received a generous planning grant from the PATH Foundation.
“The [$69,000] planning grant is to study the feasibility of establishing a school-based wellness center in the schools,” Rappahannock County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Shannon Grimsley educates the News.
“Although the need for having trained medical providers in the schools would be hugely beneficial with trying to reopen schools within the current context of the pandemic, the strain on providers will make our original intent very difficult. However, the planning grant team is working with the PATH Foundation and other health agencies to better understand a workable model and business plan where something like this could take place,” Grimsley said.
“The idea is that children at school could receive access to high quality integrated care without parents having to take off from work and students having to miss school for so many appointments throughout the year, which certainly did have a major impact on our attendance data,” she explains.
“Given the current state, having a school-based wellness center to help prevent, mitigate, and control the spread of COVID-19 would add much value, but the planning grant will allow us to see what kind of possibilities are available at this time.”
Numerous other school districts in Virginia, many in rural settings like Rappahannock, are already equipped with wellness centers that offer comprehensive pediatric care for children in pre-K through high school, as well as medical treatment for faculty. The centers have been described as a doctor’s office inside a school, staffed by a multidisciplinary team that might include a nurse or nurse practitioner, physician assistant or physician, licensed clinical social worker (which Rapp schools now have) and office clerical staff.
School-based centers, which are prevention-oriented, can provide services not limited to vaccinations and immunizations; well-child exams and sports physicals; monitor chronic conditions like asthma, allergies, diabetes, obesity, and seizures; treat accidents and injuries; diagnose and treat Attention Deficit Disorder; conduct vision and hearing screenings; and offer nutrition counseling.
Being treated in a school setting also reduces a students’ missed class time and parents’ work time for health-related appointments, including cutting down transportation and costs of medical appointments. While not intended to replace a student or faculty member’s personal doctor, wellness centers in school settings are known to work alongside Primary Care Providers.
All told, Warrenton-based PATH is doling out $1.2 million in this new round of funding — $750,000 of it going to Fauquier County for broadband initiatives that “will ultimately allow unserved or underserved areas in the county to access high-speed internet” — something Rappahannock County has also been grappling with obviously.
The remaining nearly $500,000 in annual program and planning grants will fund new or existing projects in line with the foundation’s four priority areas — access to health, childhood wellness, senior services and mental health — including $75,000 awarded by PATH to the Rappahannock Food Pantry.
“With each round of Program and Planning grants come important and exciting projects,” said Christy Connolly, president and CEO of PATH. “This year’s applicants had a strong showing, and we believe their programs will strengthen the health and vitality of our community.”
The “2020 Program and Planning Grant” recipients and amounts in Rappahannock County include:
Child Care & Learning Center: $25,000 to support child well-being outcomes for children in pre-school and after-school programs at CCLC and countywide, through teacher training and professional development.
Headwaters Foundation: $15,000 for its After-School Enrichment program that provides a safe and reliable environment for children after school.
Rapp@Home: $40,000 to support its rural senior village serving Rappahannock County. The village aims to facilitate aging in place, allowing residents to lead vital, connected lives in the comfort of their own homes.
Rappahannock County Public Schools: $69,000 to provide a school-based wellness center, partnering with local medical, dental and mental health providers. Access will be available regardless of insurance or income level.
Rappahannock Food Pantry, Inc: $75,000 to support pantry efforts to improve food distribution to address food insecurity in Rappahannock County.
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