8 Philadelphia charter schools get fully-staffed health centers

WEST PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It's a first for Philadelphia! Universal Bluford Charter School in West Philadelphia is now one of eight charter schools in the city with a fully-staffed health center.

Universal calls it the beginning of a holistic strategy to strengthen its neighborhoods.

The organization has partnered with Education-Plus and National Nursing Centers Consortium to begin operating this school year with fully-staffed health centers in all eight of its schools.

Each center has a family nurse practitioner and a medical assistant and they see, on average, 15-20 children a day.

"Bridget came down today because she has an abscess on her cheek. We're going to assess her to make sure there aren't any lumps inside the abscess," said Kelley Bass, medical assistant.

If Bridget needs a closer look she will see Marie Metz, who as a nurse practitioner, is able to monitor more serious diseases and chronic illnesses.

Many public schools in the city have health centers with school nurses - usually RNs.

"But when there is a need for a higher level of care, when there is acute sickness, asthma is a huge issue, a nurse practitioner can provide a whole higher level of care," said Julie Cousler, Education-Plus Inc.

Specifically nurse practitioners, unlike RNs, are able to diagnose illnesses.

Diagnosis and treatment at school eliminates the need for a student to miss class and for a parent to take off from work.

"We are keeping track of our asthma kids, unfortunately with the virus season coming up - the cold season, these kids get hit harder," said Marie Metz, family nurse practitioner.

In its efforts to keep its students healthy, Universal's goal is to eliminate more of the issues that negatively impact the academic success of its children.

"So we believe if we can help remove some of our barriers to learning, ultimately we can reach our goal of all our scholars achieving," said Penny Nixon, Vice President of Education for Universal Schools.
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