THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH —Columbus schools adding more Nationwide Children’s mini-clinics

Columbus City Schools and Nationwide Children’s Hospital are expanding student health-care mini-clinics to eight more buildings in Linden and the West Side.The district opened the first seven clinics in the past school year after it announced in November that the hospital would provide nurse practitioners and medical equipment for the program. The clinics rolled out between November and late January, and since then 251 students have visited on average twice each. Of those, 70 students who hadn’t seen a doctor in more than two years have received primary-care services, said Jessie Cannon, director of community wellness for Children’s .“We really feel like this is filling a gap,” Cannon said.

The visits can prompt referrals to other health-care practitioners and assist uninsured patients in securing insurance “because more often than not they are eligible for Medicaid,” Cannon said. The clinics also can provide wellness services such as physicals.

Though nurse practitioners can’t do everything a doctor can, the district said they can handle many of the health-care issues that a student might present. They often treat common illnesses such as sore throats, ear infections and asthma. They also can provide prescription medication and vaccines. Students with more complex problems will be referred to a doctor, including physicians at Children’s.

The locations for the mini-clinics will be “data driven,” based on medical need, infant mortality and other information, said district spokesman Scott Varner. Schools without the clinics still have access to school nurses, who can direct students to the clinics — open one to two days a week — or to other health-care practitioners, Varner said.

In addition to the mini-clinics, Children’s also offers behavioral-health services at 27 district schools. That program helped more than 400 students last year receive help for depression, anxiety or other social or emotional problems that are known to hinder students’ academic success, Cannon said.

In March, the Columbus Board of Education also approved plans for a Downtown health-care center for district students on the Fort Hayes campus. To be run by PrimaryOne Health, eyewear practitioner Luxottica and Ohio State University’s College of Optometry, the clinic could serve up to 40 students a day.

The nonprofit PrimaryOne Health, formerly called Columbus Neighborhood Health Center, historically has provided clinics in medically underserved areas of Franklin and Pickaway counties. The agency offered to put $675,000 toward the Fort Hayes center, which is still in the planning phase, Varner said.