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Forest Hills Middle to Open Student Health Clinic

Posted August 3, 2016

By Olivia Neeley, Wilson Daily Times Staff Writer


A school-based health care center will be launched at Forest Hills Middle this school year, thanks to a $220,000 grant from the Health Care Foundation of Wilson.

On Monday, Wilson County Health Director Teresa Ellen told county commissioners that the project was an initiative that came out of Wilson County Schools and Wilson 20/20’s strategic Youth Master Plan, which is aimed to improve the lives of youth here.

Commissioners approved the grant given by the Health Care Foundation of Wilson.


While it’s a pilot program, officials hope to expand the idea to others schools upon proving its success at Forest Hills Middle.


Ellen said the school-based health center will be staffed with a nurse, a mid-level provider, which could be a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant, and a clerk. The Wilson County Health Department will provide oversight of the center and the Wilson County Department of Social Services will provide in-kind support through a prevention social worker.


The center will be able to provide diagnosis, treatment and resolution to health problems, officials said.


Officials say giving students access to health care at school puts them in a better position to learn.


Basic services at the school will include strep throat tests, flu shots, sports screenings, medicine and check-ups for chronic conditions such as diabetes and asthma, social worker support, referrals to medical specialists if needed, immunizations and education on healthful eating and exercise.


Ellen said the center is not meant to replace the students’ primary care physician, but provides for coordinated care.


The center will be open during school hours and will require written parental permission for students to receive services.


The center, which essentially would be an extension of the health department, will accept insurance. And that would generate revenue by billing both Medicaid and private-pay insurance. Ellen said the health department also plans to seek additional grant funding in the future.


Ellen said the collaborative effort among agencies through the Wilson 20/20 Youth Master Plan enabled organizers to get the project off the ground and running.


Ellen told commissioners that Wayne County, which has operated six school-based health centers for more than a decade, has seen tremendous success and positive outcomes.


Wilson County Schools identified Forest Hills Middle as the site for the first school-based health center since it serves more than 600 students — the largest middle school in the county.


Forest Hills will also provide the space and bear any costs associated with renovations, officials said. The grant money will fund the three positions at the school-based health center.


HOTEL OCCUPANCY TAX


Sandra Homes, Wilson Visitors Center executive director, presented a request from the Tourism Authority to increase Wilson County’s hotel occupancy tax from 3 percent to 6 percent as permitted by Senate Bill 50.


Commissioners will now hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Sept. 12 at the county’s Miller Road building for further discussion before it’s voted on.


State Sen. Angela Bryant introduced Senate Bill 50, which authorizes Wilson County commissioners to impose an additional 3 percent room occupancy tax. Gov. Pat McCrory signed the local bill into law July 1.


Homes said she was excited to learn of the occupancy tax increase.


“It has been a long process for everyone including the Tourism Board of Directors, our local hoteliers, city and county officials, but especially for our local delegation members who have worked effortlessly to make this happen,” she said.


Homes said the additional 1 percent occupancy tax will enable the Tourism Authority to offer more marketing initiatives and hire an events and marketing coordinator for Wilson.


“The other 2 percent occupancy tax designation to the city (to) significantly enhance the Gillette Athletic Complex or other sports complexes and tourism related expenditures will make Wilson more of a tempting destination for championship competitions,” Homes said. She said emerging sports are forthcoming and they need to compete for additional sporting groups to come to Wilson.


“We can enhance programming, build on relationships and become a top-notch sports destination community, one with plenty to offer,” she said. “The evolution of soccer is significant to Wilson and youth baseball is very popular sport offering more competition each year.”


Homes said tourism officials are continuously looking for more opportunities to engage the visitor, ensuring the needs are met for those families, athletes and visitors while visiting “our community.”


“The additional tax will allow for more to happen,” she said.

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