QUILCENE — More than 20 people gathered to hear what a proposed Quilcene school-based health center would offer students of Quilcene and Brinnon with regards to receiving basic medical care.
The public forum was hosted by the Quilcene School District on Tuesday night. Public health officials, school district staff and faculty, parents and community members from both Quilcene School District and Brinnon School District were in attendance.
The outreach meeting was one of the steps the Quilcene School District is taking to gain insight into the public’s feelings about the possibility of the clinic being implemented before taking a final plan to the School Board for approval.
The earliest the health center could be operational would be January 2020, Superintendent Frank Redmon said.
“We wanted to base this conversation in the community, to hear the opinions and needs about what you might have,” Redmon said.
The proposed school-based health center would operate one to two days a week for a total of eight hours and would be located at the Quilcene Elementary School, 294715 U.S. Highway 101.
The clinic would be available only to Quilcene and Brinnon students. It would be able to provide such services as diagnosis and treatments of minor illnesses and injuries, management of chronic health conditions, reproductive health, sports physicals, immunizations and counseling for mental health issues.
School-based health centers are not long-term care facilities, but allow the school to directly manage minor medical issues and then refer them to medical facilities for further treatment, said Marjorie Boyd, nurse at Jefferson County Public Health.
Quilcene now has a mental health counselor for students. The addition of this clinic would build off of that and expand into the physical health needs of students.
Chimacum and Port Townsend school districts already have school-based health clinics, which were established 11 years ago, and offer similar services to the proposed Quilcene one.
At this meeting the two nurse practitioners who are from the current Chimacum and Port Townsend school-based health centers — Susan O’Brian, ARNP from Port Townsend and Sarah Kirkegaard, ARNP from Chimacum — were in attendance and explained many of the benefits of school-based health centers.
A nurse practitioner would be on staff for the Quilcene clinic.
Before the clinic could see a student, it would have to obtain parental consent for students younger than 18 except in two instances: Students of any age can give their consent for birth control and students 13 and older can give consent for mental health services.
The school would know when a student is at the health center, but the student would still be protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which means that none of their medical records would be shared with the district without consent.
The students academic records also would not be shared with the clinic; the two entities will operate separately from each other, O’Brian said.
Services to the student could be charged to that student family’s insurance, which O’Brian said would assist with funding the clinic, but if a student is not insured, the clinic would be able to assist them with signing up for Apple Health if they qualify or work something out if that’s not the case.
“We would never want a student to not come because they are afraid of payment,” O’Brian said.
The health center proposal is a collaboration of Jefferson Healthcare, Jefferson County Public Health and the Quilcene School District. Jefferson Healthcare would finance the majority of the costs of running clinic, including staffing, equipment, and materials. Quilcene would provide the rooms and cover the janitorial and the electricity cost, Redmon said.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5 or at [email protected].