District considers health clinic in elementary school

BY KATIE HOOS
As the Mamaroneck Union Free School District considers placing a health clinic in one of its elementary schools, some parents and residents are concerned a clinic would pose potential health and safety issues and are urging the district to rule it out.

At the May 6 Board of Education meeting, school officials discussed the possibility of creating a school-based health clinic run by Open Door, a nonprofit organization that provides no cost community and school-based healthcare for areas throughout Westchester, particularly those with low-income and underserved residents. The clinic would provide preventative, primary and emergency care to all elementary school students within the district and would work in collaboration with school nurses.

Open Door school-based health centers are currently in five out of six schools in the Village of Port Chester’s public school district and one will be opening in Ossining High School this fall.

“School-based health centers are specifically located where there are low-income children who don’t often have access to a primary care doctor,” Open Door Chief Executive Officer Lindsay Farrell said. “We know there are significant numbers of families in Mamaroneck that don’t have access to routine and regular primary care. Hundreds of people in Mamaroneck are using services in the Port Chester facility.”

Mamaroneck school Superint-endent Dr. Robert Shaps said if the district were to move forward with implementing a school-based clinic, it would be located in one of the district’s four elementary schools—Central, Murray Avenue and Chatsworth Avenue schools in Larchmont, or Mamaroneck Avenue School in the Village of Mamaroneck—but no specific location has been selected and the district is still exploring the pros and cons of the program.

At its May 6 meeting, the board toyed with the idea of using an empty room in the Mamaroneck Avenue School. When asked by the Review if Mamaroneck Avenue School would host the health clinic, Shaps declined to comment.

But due to the nature of the Open Door program and how the program is funded—through federal and state grants—Mamaroneck Avenue School would be the only school in the district to qualify, according to Farrell.

“Where a clinic goes is dependent upon demographics,” Farrell said. “The funding goes where the need is.”

While a clinic may be needed, parents at the Mamaroneck Avenue School are concerned about health and security issues a school-based clinic could pose and are urging the district to reconsider.

Nancy Wasserman, a village resident whose children and grandchildren attended Mamaroneck Avenue School, said she’s in favor of a health clinic coming to Mamaroneck, but does not see the benefit of a school-based model.

“Children who are well shouldn’t be in the same place as sick kids,” Wasserman said. “We have no medical care in the community for the low-income residents as it is. If we’re going to do something, we need to do it right so adults can be seen, too.”

One Mamaroneck Avenue mother who asked to remain anonymous said the school-based clinic might attract adult visitors, causing security
issues and bringing in unnecessary germs.

“It doesn’t belong in the school building. It would better serve the community if it was outside the schools because then the clinic could serve the whole family,” she said. “If you’re only giving care to school-aged children, what’s going to stop the parent from coming in with their baby or by themselves? You don’t know what kind of germs are coming in either.”

The mother said some parents are concerned the clinic would devalue the school system and detract people from moving into the district.

“That’s comparing the district to Port Chester and Ossining while now, people compare us to Scarsdale,” she said.

Whether or not the district implements the school-based clinic, Farrell hopes the Mamaroneck community understands the need for better health care and its broad benefits for students in the district.

“It’s in everybody’s interest to have healthy children in the schools and it’s harder for some families for a variety of reasons,” Farrell said. “We love school-based health care so much because the children are there nine months out of year, so it’s a wonderful way to build relationships with families and do so much more for education.”

CONTACT: katie@hometwn.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

BY KATIE HOOS

Staff Writer

As the Mamaroneck Union Free School District considers placing a health clinic in one of its elementary schools, some parents and residents are concerned a clinic would pose potential health and safety issues and are urging the district to rule it out.

At the May 6 Board of Education meeting, school officials discussed the possibility of creating a school-based health clinic run by Open Door, a nonprofit organization that provides no cost community and school-based healthcare for areas throughout Westchester, particularly those with low-income and underserved residents. The clinic would provide preventative, primary and emergency care to all elementary school students within the district and would work in collaboration with school nurses.

Open Door school-based health centers are currently in five out of six schools in the Village of Port Chester’s public school district and one will be opening in Ossining High School this fall.

“School-based health centers are specifically located where there are low-income children who don’t often have access to a primary care doctor,” Open Door Chief Executive Officer Lindsay Farrell said. “We know there are significant numbers of families in Mamaroneck that don’t have access to routine and regular primary care. Hundreds of people in Mamaroneck are using services in the Port Chester facility.”

Mamaroneck school Superint-endent Dr. Robert Shaps said if the district were to move forward with implementing a school-based clinic, it would be located in one of the district’s four elementary schools—Central, Murray Avenue and Chatsworth Avenue schools in Larchmont, or Mamaroneck Avenue School in the Village of Mamaroneck—but no specific location has been selected and the district is still exploring the pros and cons of the program.

At its May 6 meeting, the board toyed with the idea of using an empty room in the Mamaroneck Avenue School. When asked by the Review if Mamaroneck Avenue School would host the health clinic, Shaps declined to comment.

But due to the nature of the Open Door program and how the program is funded—through federal and state grants—Mamaroneck Avenue School would be the only school in the district to qualify, according to Farrell.

“Where a clinic goes is dependent upon demographics,” Farrell said. “The funding goes where the need is.”

While a clinic may be needed, parents at the Mamaroneck Avenue School are concerned about health and security issues a school-based clinic could pose and are urging the district to reconsider.

Nancy Wasserman, a village resident whose children and grandchildren attended Mamaroneck Avenue School, said she’s in favor of a health clinic coming to Mamaroneck, but does not see the benefit of a school-based model.

“Children who are well shouldn’t be in the same place as sick kids,” Wasserman said. “We have no medical care in the community for the low-income residents as it is. If we’re going to do something, we need to do it right so adults can be seen, too.”

One Mamaroneck Avenue mother who asked to remain anonymous said the school-based clinic might attract adult visitors, causing security
issues and bringing in unnecessary germs.

“It doesn’t belong in the school building. It would better serve the community if it was outside the schools because then the clinic could serve the whole family,” she said. “If you’re only giving care to school-aged children, what’s going to stop the parent from coming in with their baby or by themselves? You don’t know what kind of germs are coming in either.”

The mother said some parents are concerned the clinic would devalue the school system and detract people from moving into the district.

“That’s comparing the district to Port Chester and Ossining while now, people compare us to Scarsdale,” she said.

Whether or not the district implements the school-based clinic, Farrell hopes the Mamaroneck community understands the need for better health care and its broad benefits for students in the district.

“It’s in everybody’s interest to have healthy children in the schools and it’s harder for some families for a variety of reasons,” Farrell said. “We love school-based health care so much because the children are there nine months out of year, so it’s a wonderful way to build relationships with families and do so much more for education.”

CONTACT: katie@hometwn.com