School health centers help meet needs

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LEWISTON – The Maine Assembly on School-Based Health Care designated April as School-Based Health Care Awareness Month. More than 25 school-based health centers in Maine, including four in Lewiston-Auburn, are being recognized for the work they do to promote and support the physical, mental and dental health of school-aged children.

Lewiston-Auburn school-based health centers include a medical director, coordinator, nurse practitioners, medical assistants, licensed social workers, adolescent support counselor, dental hygienists and administrative support staff, who collaborate with the school nurses at all four schools.

The health centers are part of Community Clinical Services; a federally-qualified health center affiliated with the Sisters of Charity Health System.

Dr. Doug Smith, medical director of the centers, said, “Direct benefits of the school-based health centers include decreasing absenteeism from school, allowing parents to remain at work and barrier-free access to care for all students, regardless of their ability to pay.”

Nurse Practitioner Deb Nichols said, “Healthy children do make better students.”

Local partners include Lewiston and Auburn school districts, Richardson Hollow Mental Health Services, CCS Outpatient/EAP, Tooth Fairies Inc., B Street Dental Program, Community Dental of Auburn, Tri-County Health Services, Tri-County Mental Health Services, Healthy Androscoggin, Abused Women Advocacy Project and the Sexual Assault Crisis Center.

Events in celebration of School-Based Health Center Awareness Month have included open houses, distribution of “Healthy Student” wristbands; weekly trivia contests; free massages for students and poster displays at each school.

Activities will culminate with a tour of both health centers with the state legislative delegation on Thursday, May 4, beginning at 11:30 a.m. at Edward Little High School. For more information, call Linda L. Nadeau RN, coordinator, at 782-6827, ext. 257, or visit laschoolbasedhealth.com.

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