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School-based clinics keep kids in classroom

Madigan Commander

Published: 02:15PM August 10th, 2017
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Madigan Public Affairs/2016

Lt. Col. (Dr.) Keith Lemmon, right, treats Alise Pedrola, 13, at Madigan’s School Based Health Center at Woodbrook Middle School recently.

A while back, I heard from an active-duty parent about how Madigan’s School Based Health System clinics personally affected his family. With a school-aged son, they decided to enroll him in one of our clinics embedded in an area school.

What struck the parent the most was how quick the process was when his son needed to see his provider; he literally only missed 17 minutes of school to be seen by a Madigan provider, and the parents never had to leave their home or office.

Without the school-based clinic, it would have taken hours for the spouse or active-duty parent to drive to the school, bring his child to Madigan, sit through the appointment and drive his son back to school and himself back to work.

Instead, his son missed only part of a single class instead of all day.

As for the active-duty parent, he only needed to step away from work for a few minutes as he talked to his son and his son’s provider for an end-of-appointment review.

While Madigan providers have been embedded in community school clinics since 2012, we were fortunate to continue to expand our partnerships in recent years so that now we offer clinics at least once a week at Harrison Prep High School, Lakes High School, Mann Middle School, Pioneer Middle School, Rogers High School, Steilacoom High School and Woodbrook Middle School.

Our partnerships with local school districts and with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department make these clinics possible.

School-aged kids in grades 6 to 12 of active-duty and retiree TRICARE Prime patients are eligible to use these clinics; parents just need to preregister their kids first at Madigan’s Adolescent Clinic at 253-968-3974 or 253-968-1980, or via registration packets which are being mailed out to eligible families.

Remember that these parental consent forms need to be renewed annually to keep kids eligible for care in our school clinics.

Generally, appointments are needed for our school clinics; these can be set up through the TRICARE appointment line — 800-404-4506 — or by calling the Adolescent Clinic directly. Kids can be seen at the school based health clinics for primary care for minor injuries and illnesses, physicals and immunizations, ongoing management of some diseases like diabetes, referrals to specialty care and behavioral health screening and counseling.

Our care teams in the schools notice that teenage patients open up more in school clinics, perhaps because they’re more relaxed and comfortable talking to their providers in a more familiar setting. After all, it’s their school.

We’re proud to come to where our military children are to make their health care as accessible as possible, while letting them concentrate more on their main goal — getting an education.