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Bringing a nurse to every school

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When students at Greenwood schools are injured, sick or have health questions next school year they’ll be able to see a trained nurse at each building.

Up to now, just one of Greenwood’s schools, Westwood Elementary, had a registered nurse on staff. The student clinics in Greenwood’s other five buildings were run by assistants who didn’t have formal nursing training and couldn’t answer specific questions from students or families who came to school with health concerns, Superintendent Kent DeKoninck and Community vice president of integrated primary care delivery systems Steve Zetzl said.


Starting next school year, Community Health Network will provide either registered nurses or licensed practical nurses who will replace the assistants at all of Greenwood’s buildings. The nurse who has been working at Westwood Elementary will become a Community employee, DeKoninck said.

The partnership between Community and Greenwood should save the school district about $115,000 per year, which will be used to pay for other personnel expenses, DeKoninck said.

“It’s a financial gain for us,” he said. “We don’t get money from the deal, but we save money.”

Two of the health clinic assistants at Greenwood schools already have left the school district, and the other three will have jobs with Greenwood schools for one more year until their positions are eliminated, DeKoninck said. After that, he said, they can apply for jobs as classroom or office assistants.

Community already provides a clinic for staff at Greenwood Community High School and an athletic trainer for athletes. Providing nurses for the school district was the next logical step in continuing the partnership with Greenwood schools. Zetzl said the agreement will allow the health network to meet with families looking for health care or who have health-related questions.

“It’s really trying to establish relationships,” he said. “And schools are such an integral part of the community.”

Greenwood is the sixth central Indiana school district where Community is providing nurses. The others are Lawrence Township, Warren Township, Beech Grove, Decatur Township and Franklin Township, all in Marion County.

Other area school districts also have partnerships with health care providers. Center Grove, for example, is receiving $650,000 from Indiana University Health over 10 years, and more than half of that money paid for new artificial turf for the football field. As part of the deal, IU Health has exclusive advertising rights on the school district’s athletic fields and facilities. Center Grove’s deal with IU Health replaced a $125,000 deal the school district originally had with Community Health Network and Johnson Memorial Hospital that gave them advertising rights over five years.

Greenwood schools’ new agreement with Community Health Network also will help them do a better job of taking care of medical needs students have at school and answering medical-related questions students or parents have, DeKoninck and Zetzl said. For example, if a student receives an eye exam or is tested for scoliosis at the school and parents have any questions about the results, the nurses will be able to quickly connect them with people who can give them answers, Zetzl said.

“It becomes more and more complicated to meet the needs of our kids, and this helps increase that access to more qualified medical professionals,” DeKoninck said.

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