• Health clinic integrates into school culture

    Kathy Woods, NP, the onsite nurse practitioner for the Mercy Clinic at Roosevelt High School, 3230 Hartford St., examines Shamira Rice, a senior at the school. 
    Photo by Wiley Price 

    Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 6:10 am

    By Sandra Jordan

    The Mercy Clinic at Roosevelt High School has adapted its services to meet the health needs of students, staff and children at the onsite daycare. The school-based clinic opened a year and a half ago to offer onsite sports physicals, flu shots, immunizations and other direct care.

    A partnership between Mercy, St. Louis Public Schools, and half of a $1 million grant from The Boeing Company made the school-based clinic possible.

    “A lot of kids will come down during their lunch break when they have the sniffles, when have a headache or when they have something minor,” said Kathy Woods, NP, the onsite nurse practitioner.

    Roosevelt High School, 3230 Hartford St., has 520 students enrolled. Woods said the clinic has seen 800 to 900 visits thus far.

    Roosevelt Principal Crystal Gale said the average daily attendance for students receiving services from the clinic is 92.25 percent, which is approximately 2 percent higher than students who don’t receive services.

    To address the needs of what leadership described as “a highly transient population,” Mercy hired a full-time behavioral health therapist behavioral for the clinic last October.

    “Mercy and Roosevelt share a belief system that Roosevelt must be a stabilizing force for students,” Gale said. “The therapist is responsible for assessing the individual needs of students who suffer from a mental illness or who simply need an outlet.”

    Gale said the clinic has become part of the school’s culture, with the Mercy staff creating AYA, a girls group that meets weekly to discuss self-esteem, hygiene, relationship values and issues related to their everyday lives.

    “AYA is a West African word for ‘fern,’ which is a plant that thrives in pretty tough living situations,” Gale explained.

    The clinic team also reaches out into classrooms by collaborating with Roosevelt’s health teacher on lesson plans and bringing in guest speakers to discuss the importance of health and wellness. Mercy staff also participate in professional development sessions for educators.

    “The behavioral health therapist works with our social worker to host professional development sessions with teachers on properly assessing the root cause of misbehaviors in students and learning how to address them,” Gale said. “The team assists staff with knowing how and when to refer the students for services and how to reinforce and undergird what goes on in therapy sessions.”

    The school and the clinic are now ready to examine data to determine how much of a difference the clinic is making.

    “Roosevelt and Mercy are collaborating with Washington University to further assess the impact of having a school-based health clinic,” Gale said.

    Jason Purnell, a professor at Washington University’s Brown School of Social Work, is helping them to start measuring their outcomes. Purnell played a lead role in the team of African-American researchers from Washington University and Saint Louis University that has been studying African-American health in St. Louis.

    “We are going to integrate into what their challenges are,” Woods said. “We try to get involved in everything that the students are involved in so they don’t just see us as a clinic, they see us as part of Roosevelt.”

    Woods said the clinic regroups and changes constantly to meet the needs of students and the Roosevelt community. Asthma and young men’s health are some of the needs the clinic is working collaboratively to meet. Through the partnership, the school also works with Mercy Neighborhood Ministries for food and energy assistance to support families in need.

    “At Roosevelt, we believe that it is our responsibility to ensure that all children are academically healthy, socially healthy, emotionally healthy and physically healthy,” Gale said. “The Mercy Clinic at Roosevelt helps us make that happen.”