May 8, 2009

Nurse-run clinics for Metro Schools employees debut

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Patti McCarver, M.S.N., weighs Clayton Aaron Jenkins during an open house for Metro Nashville Public Schools’ new Employee and Family Health Centers, which will be run by nurse practitioners from Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. (photo by Joe Howell)

Nurse-run clinics for Metro Schools employees debut

Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) opened five new Employee and Family Health Centers last week to provide prompt, quality care for everything from acute illnesses to chronic disease management.

The clinics are the result of a new partnership with Insurance Trust and University Community Health Services (UCHS). Each site is run by board-certified family nurse practitioners from Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.

The purpose of the clinics is to provide convenient, fast and high quality health care for MNPS teachers, retired teachers, employees and their families — roughly 16,000 individuals.

With these new health centers, those covered can seek medical treatment during lunch breaks, and before or after work. The clinics are expected to help cut down on the number of health care-related absences for employees and their dependents.

“All the members of our health care team are dedicated to providing care in the same manner in which we would want our own family members provided care,” said Patti McCarver, M.S.N., R.N., clinics manager for MNPS. “Our teachers and Metro employees provide great services to our city, and it is a privilege to manage these clinics for them.”

The clinics are distinct yellow and gray portables, each equipped with four exam rooms to help patients with illness, injuries, women's health care, annual physicals, sports physicals, immunizations, management of chronic illness and health risk assessments. Same-day appointments are available for acute illnesses.

“These clinics offer high-quality, convenient and less expensive health care, but the vision goes much deeper than that,” said Bonnie Pilon, D.S.N., R.N., VUSN's senior associate dean for Practice and interim CEO for UCHS. “The ultimate goal is to improve health and quality of life among this population. What we are really trying to do is knit together many aspects of a population health model to pull it all together.”

In addition to at least one nurse practitioner at each site, the project includes a population health manager, who will work closely with program administrators, the school system and community health groups like the American Heart Association, Weight Watchers, etc., to help prevent secondary health issues.

“The primary and secondary consequences are often not fully engaged or have failed to work,” said Pilon. “In this model, if someone is diagnosed as pre-diabetes, for instance, we can partner with them and help them through every step and hopefully keep them from full-fledged diabetes.

“This concept has momentum and traction within the MNPS leadership and the Insurance Trust Board and will become increasingly implemented in the coming months and years,” she added.

The clinics are located at MNPS Headquarters on Bransford Avenue, Madison/Taylor Stratton Elementary, Two Rivers Middle School, Mt. View Elementary and Brookemeade Elementary.

All clinics operate Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the Bransford site is open Saturdays 8 a.m. to noon.

The clinics are funded by the Teachers Health Plan — no public monies are involved.

There are no out-of-pocket expenses for certificated employees and dependents. Support staff and other Metro employees pay their regular copays, coinsurance and deductibles.