- Michael D. Clark Staff Writer
Hamilton Schools are getting healthier one student at a time, say officials in charge of the district’s first in-school clinic.
The Primary Health Solutions Clinic in Garfield Middle School has been opened for just more than a year, and the experiment in campus health-care delivery is working, said Joni Copas, spokeswoman for the Hamilton Schools.
Patient numbers are steadily increasing as the clinic approaches its second summer thanks to word about the clinic spreading throughout the 9,000-student school system.
The clinic, which opened in April last year, now serves all Hamilton students thanks to a van-ride services transporting the ill youngsters and teens to the Garfield School location at 250 N. Fair Ave. Moreover, students’ families can also receive medical care at the facility.
“The school-based health center has been a great resource not only for our students, but also for their families and community members. It is open year-round, not just during school hours and school days, so it is easily accessible for everyone,” said Copas.
There have been more than 2,260 clinic visits in the first year for medical, vision, dental and behavioral health services, officials said.
So far this school year there have been 717 vision visits - with 395 glasses dispensed - and 317 dental visits, which the clinic offers one day a week.
Marc A. Bellisario, president and CEO of Primary Health Solutions, said students cannot learn if they have poor vision, dental problems or suffer from chronic illness.
“Having the school-based health center available to all students in the Hamilton Schools is vital to our community,” he said. “We have been encouraged by the how well the students and families have embraced the school-based health center.”
The center is open year-round, he said.
“The (clinic) provides continuous quality health care to students and their families, (and) families are able to establish a comprehensive medical home offering multiple services all under one roof,” said Bellisario, whose company also operates an on-campus health clinic in Fairfield Schools, which opened in 2016.
The two city-school district clinics are experiments in private-sector collaboration with Butler County public schools.
The eight staffers at the Hamilton clinic, which is 1,600 square feet after converting it from the school’s locker room and coach’s office, are available to assist families with insurance enrollment, if uninsured.
Services will not be provided without parental consent, and a variable pay scale is available to some based on family income.
Clinic Practice Manager Joanne Thurner said after a year, the clinic’s services have expanded to include driving home of sick children, with their parents’ permission, rather than returning them to school as long as a parent is at home.
“These kids (students) are able to get help now when they are sick,” said Thurner.