Winston Medical clinic preventing pandemic’s school nursing shortage from severely impacting Louisville School District

LOUISVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Just over a month into the 2021 fall semester, COVID-19 continues to disrupt Mississippi schools.

Added to that is the nationwide shortage of school nurses.

However, that shortage is not having as severe an impact on the Louisville Municipal School District.

“If they present with COVID symptoms…we’re able to test for those things at the school, the parents can pick them up and then you decrease the number of people that they’ve come in contact with,” says Debbie Fryery, the director of clinic operations for Winston Medical Center.

In 2015, the school district did not have the money to continue employing a school nurse. So Winston Medical set up shop at Fair Elementary.

“We decided we would open the clinic, we would employ the nurse and the nurse practitioner and a receptionist,” Fryery says.

Of the 2,033 students in the Louisville school district, there are currently 14 in isolation and 18 in quarantine due to COVID-19, per school district superintendent David Luke.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that schools should have at least one full-time nurse for every 750 students if possible.

Nurse Practitioner Kali Rogers estimates they only see about five students a day at the most with COVID-19 symptoms.

“Most of your school nurses and clinics just run with a nurse, where they administer meds and could make the decision to send the children home or not,” she says. “But we can actually diagnose and send in medicine.”

Another bonus to having Winston Medical run the clinic is their ability to keep it fully staffed as much as possible.

“Say my receptionist is out, or my nurse is out, or my nurse practitioner is out,” Fryery says. “We’re able to pull a nurse or a nurse practitioner from one of our other clinic locations.”

They’ve even seen other school districts adopting similar systems of care.

“We’ve had some other counties and surrounding areas that have kind of mirrored what we did,” Fryery says.  “From what we’ve been told now, it’s increased their attendance a little bit.”

Which could mean less time in quarantine and more time in the classroom.

Categories: Featured, Local News, Schools and Coronavirus