Xenia middle school introduces new health and wellness center
When children aren’t healthy, they aren’t in class. When they’re not in class, they don’t learn.
That’s why Xenia Public Schools and Dayton Children’s Hospital have partnered to create a new school-based health and wellness center.
The center is located at Warner Middle School.
Xenia Public Schools and Dayton Children’s received $100,000 for the wellness center from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus as part of its School Based Health Collaboration.
The goal of the collaboration is to expand healthcare access to children, especially children and their families who may encounter barriers to healthcare, such as poverty.
Warner Middle School supplied the space, and with $100,000 the school and Dayton Children’s set up the center.
Dina Thurman is a nurse practitioner with Dayton Children’s. She’s also the nurse practitioner who will be on-site three days a week to treat students.
She’s joined by a technician, another employee of Dayton Children’s, who will help Thurman run the center.
This is what makes the health and wellness center unique from a typical school nurse’s office. With Thurman, her training, and her equipment, she is better able to assess and treat children when they are feeling ill.
The health and wellness center is equipped to treat children with common ailments – headaches, ear aches, and sore throats.
The center is also equipped to help children with chronic illnesses, such as asthma and diabetes.
For example, if a child is experiencing various aches and pains, Thurman is able to assess if they are sick and contagious. If not, she can treat the child’s ailment and send them back to class.
“Kids that spend more time in the classroom tend to be healthier and better educated, and better educated kids go on to be healthier adults. So our goal is to minimize the number of missed classroom hours due to illness,” Thurman said.
While it is not quite ready yet, the center will also be able to administer telehealth treatment to children on the days that Thurman is not on-site.
To that, the technician uses a device called TytoCare. TytoCare is a handheld device that allows a non-provider to check a child’s heart and lung sounds, look at ears, and check a child’s throat.
While the non-provider checks on the child, TytoCare is also hosting a video call with a nurse practitioner or doctor at Dayton Children’s. They will be the ones who ultimately decide on how to treat and care for the child after the examination is complete.
Thurman expressed, however, that the health and wellness center is not intended to replace a provider or specialist that a child visits. Instead, she said she is one layer of treatment that a child will experience.
“I like to think of it as like multiple layers of care,” she said. “Just because a child comes to see me doesn’t mean that they’re not going to go back to their primary doctor. And just because they’re seeing me doesn’t mean that they don’t need a specialist at the hospital. I’m just an added layer of support that’s right here and easily accessible.”
It’s this easy accessibility that also excites Thurman.
Not every child at Warner Middle School may be able to see a provider or a specialist. Affordability is often a barrier to accessing healthcare, as well as hours of doctor’s offices conflicting with a family’s schedule and other reasons.
Now, Thurman is accessible and at a convenient location, and she hopes that this means more children will seek her out.
“It’s super exciting to have this opportunity to take health care to kids rather than wait for them to come to us,” she said. “I’m just thrilled about being in this position and having this opportunity.”