McKinleyville Union School District (MUSD) was selected to participate in the Nurses in the School Pilot Project. The pilot is a unique partnership between the Humboldt Independent Practice Association (IPA), the North Coast Health Improvement and Information Network (NCHIIN), Northern Humboldt Union High School District, and MUSD.
According to the January 2017 article “California’s Glaring Shortage of School Nurses” in California Healthline form the California Health Care Foundation, there is approximately one school nurse per 3,500 students in Humboldt County. A one-day-a-week nurse, whose main time is dealing with compliance duties, serves the 366 students at McKinleyville Middle School (MMS), the site of the proposed pilot.
The purpose of this pilot is to establish a small-scale health center at MMS to help fill in the gaps in services that families are currently experiencing with the county shortage of primary care providers. The current plan is to provide services from a nurse practitioner or registered nurse for twenty hours per week (five hours per day/ four days per week).
In 2018-19, the program will focus on delivering basic health screening, care navigation, health education, prevention activities, and health maintenance services. In following years, the scope of services will grow to include social service support and behavioral health resources.
School nurses are in short supply and most schools cannot afford even a half-time position. This pilot will provide nursing services at no cost to the schools. Students spend over half of each weekday at school, which provides a great opportunity for school-based health care. Unlike schools, the IPA can directly bill for services, which creates a sustainability model for future growth.
“We are thrilled to have an opportunity to provide direct health service to our students,” states Superintendent of McKinleyville Union School District, Jan Schmidt. “We’ve seen the challenges our families have had trying to find healthcare providers. This pilot alleviates those barriers for families and offers students responsive and timely care exactly where they are, when they need it. If successful, we anticipate expanding services to other McKinleyville schools next year.”