1 year later; a look at Winooski's school-based health care

Published: Jun. 11, 2018 at 7:21 AM EDT
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A plan by Winooski school officials to create an on-campus health care system for students is making strides. We told you last year how Winooski wanted to start a health care program of their own. We followed up with the school and learned it has helped keep students in school and parents at work.

They call it a hospital without walls. The nurse’s office quickly becomes a doctor's office twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Dr. Heather Link, Dr. Andrea Green, Dr. Anna Zuckerman and Dr. Terry Hetzler see students, giving them checkups, requesting X-rays and writing prescriptions.

Parents like Jessica Perrotte are raving about the program.

"It’s been so great this year," Perrotte said. "My kids get sick often, unfortunately, which means a lot of time for me doing quick emergency sub plans and coming to get them from the nurse and bringing them to the doctor."

This year, Perrotte avoided several trips to her kids' primary care physician simply by dropping her kids off at school.

School nurse Elizabeth Parris calls it a great success and a dream come true.

"We've been open for about 35 clinic days and during those 35 clinic days we've seen 140 kids come through the door. Out of those 140 kids, 102 of them have been able to remain in school instead of being dismissed or sent home to go to the doctor or urgent care," she said.

Through this program, parents do not have to miss work to pick up their kids in the middle of the day. About half the elementary and middle school parents signed permission slips allowing their kids to be treated by the doctors.

"We could make a decision to bring them home if they were really feeling ill, or they could try to tough it out and finish the day, which meant I didn't have to leave school and use more sick time," Perrotte said.

The program is paid for through grants, donated time by the physicians at UVM Medical Center and insurance.

"I see this was very beneficial for myself as a parent," Perrotte said.

Officials hope to expand the program next year and are working on creating a larger space that will be open to the entire district.