Student health hot topic at Randolph BOE

Children cannot learn when they are not in school, and two Community Care of West Virginia employees addressed the Randolph County Board of Education Monday with a possible solution to excessive absenteeism by students and staff members.

Brock Malcolm, chief operating officer of Community Care of West Virginia, and Patricia Collett, P.A.C., asked board members to consider allowing the group to add at least four school-based help clinics in Randolph County Schools.

“The basis of the clinics is taking the care to the kids,” said Malcolm. “Rather than missing school, students can slip off during their gym class, be checked and go back to class. This service allows for sick visits and well child care visits. School staff can also visit the clinics, thus cutting down on staff absenteeism.”

Malcolm said parents would give prior consent to any visits.

“Parents can come to the visit with their children,” Malcolm said. “However, if parents had the time, they would likely take their child to the doctor themselves.”

Collett said the clinics are able to provide preventive care that the children do not normally receive on a yearly basis, as well as sports physicals and immunization clinics.

Currently Community Care of West Virginia operates 16 school-based clinics in Upshur, Harrison, Pocahontas and Braxton counties. Statewide, there are 87 school-based clinics serving 106 schools.

“When students come in with an illness, we call their parents and let them know what is going on,” Collett said. “If they need a prescription, it is sent to the pharmacy the parents choose and waiting for them to pick up. We also see teachers and help with bloodwork and yearly check-ups. With yearly visits for children, we can catch diabetes and asthma early, and offer training to students on how to use their medicines properly. Our goal is to start treating children in elementary schools and follow them through as they move up so they can be healthy adults.”

Malcolm told board members they would only have to provide space for the clinic.

“We provide the personnel and equipment,” Malcolm said. “And being a federally qualified health care center, we qualify for guaranteed liability coverage that would relieve the county from any liability.”

Also during Monday’s meeting, Randolph County resident Phil Hudok addressed board members about a formulating a plan for school safety in the event of a shooting.

“If there is a problem, the response time to Pickens School is 35 to 40 minutes,” Hudok said. “I am going to petition to arm and train (school) staff under the sheriff’s department’s direction. I believe a concealed carry is the best plan.”

Hudok said he spoke with Randolph County Interim Superintendent Terry George, who said the federal government has a plan for school security.

“The three options of Homeland Security is be prepared, call 911 and use scissors,” Hudok said. “I agree with being prepared. Cell phones do not work at Pickens School and lots of times the land lines do not work either. I do not recommend arming yourself with blunt scissors. My plan would be with a .357 weapon. It would win over the scissors.”

The next regular Randolph County Board of Education meeting is slated for 6 p.m. Feb. 18 at the central office.