IPS expanding school clinics and use of nurse practitioners

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - More Indianapolis students will have access to healthcare during their time at school. Indianapolis Public Schools is launching two additional school clinics so kids in need can get medical attention as fast as possible.

This central Indiana school district is using partnering with community medical groups to bring nurse practitioners to school clinics. The specialized staff are able to not just examine a child but also prescribe medicine when needed.

The concept has already been working at Clarence Farrington School 61. Chris McCarthy is a nurse practitioner who sees patients in the school clinic there throughout the week. Kids can be checked out by her without parents having to make an appointment at a doctor's office.

"A lot of families either have a hard time getting off work, they’re afraid of losing their job, they have transportation issues," McCarthy said.

Now, the district is expanding these services to two more schools - Carl Wilde School 79 and Lew Wallace School 107. At such clinics, students can be seen for a wide range of things including sports physicals to more serious ailments like strep throat.

"We looked at numbers and percentage of kids who were receiving assistance and size of the school so we could expand reach into our largest schools that have higher need populations," said Brent Freeman, special education officer for IPS.

At both Carl Wilde and Lew Wallace, 83 percent of students qualify for financial assistance for textbooks. The statistic helps paint a picture of the socioeconomic barriers children at those schools might be facing.

Now, the goal is to connect those kids with the care they require so children can focus on learning.

"We think there’s a direct correlation between providing robust health services and better attendance," Freeman said.

The clinics are also focusing on referring children to mental health services when necessary.

The facilities at Carl Wilde and Lew Wallace are currently going through the credentialing process.