Ar first glance, something that resembles a doctor’s office in a middle of an elementary school might seem out of place among the brightly decorated bulletin boards, backpacks and books. But on a Monday morning at Brewer Community School, you quickly realize that the School Health Center, a service of Penobscot Community Health Care, is just as much a part of the school as the cafeteria and gymnasium.
Students with passes come to see Kathrin Hastey, family nurse practitioner, for general checkup, immunizations, and sick visits. Others have counseling appointments with Emily Barrington, licensed clinical professional counselor, and dental hygiene cleanings with Kimberly Riitano, registered dental hygienist.
Penobscot Community Health Care operates two school-based practices in Brewer, one at the Brewer Community School for grades pre-k through eighth grade and the other at Brewer High School for grades nine through 12. A third site will open at Brewer’s alternative high school “ALPHA” program. Each practice offers medical services, including a family nurse practitioner, mental health counseling, and dental hygiene services.
Melissa Darby, whose three children have used the Brewer High School health center, said that “it has made life so much easier for my family. The communication between parent and the clinic has been exceptional.
“ It is nice to know if your child has an ear ache, sore throat ,or anything that necessarily wouldn’t warrant them to miss school, they can stop in at the clinic to be checked,” she said. “If they do have a start of an infection, they will call and ask about treatment, then call in a script and send notification to their primary physician.”
“As the school nurse at Brewer Community School, I have found the services provided to the school population by the School Health Center invaluable,” said Carol Warmuth, RN, the Brewer Community School nurse. “Some of the children who receive dental care, mental health services and well child care might not have the resources to pursue these services elsewhere.
“It is wonderful to be able to offer this option to families when children need to be seen by a provider,” she said.
“We definitely fill a niche here at the Brewer schools. We are a unique practice in that we are in such close proximity to where the students spend the majority of their day and we are able to provide comprehensive integrated health care within an environment that they are comfortable in,” said Kathrin Hastey, FNP.
Brewer school health centers had more than 1,000 visits in 2011: 659 medical visits, 283 mental health counseling visits, and 126 dental visits.
Starting in May, Brewer Community School students will be able to see a staff dentist and registered dental hygienist for exams, X-Rays, fillings, simple extractions, cleanings, fluoride, and sealants.