PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - On Thursday, the last of three School Based Health Centers will open in Pender County.
In 2012, the Federal Government gave the non-profit called Pender Alliance for Teen Health, also called PATH, a half a million dollars to put in three different school site health centers.
PATH picked three different locations in Pender County where health care wasn't prevalent.
Now parent's no longer have to drive their children forty-five minutes away to see a doctor, their children can see one without ever leaving school property.
Two of three health centers have already been operating at Pender High School and West Pender Middle school.
The third and final center is opening on Thursday at Cape Fear Elementary and Middle schools. Pender County schools.
The Executive Director of PATH, Sandy Rowe, said the School Based Health Center does not take the place of school nurses.
She explained if a child feels sick they will still go to the school nurse. If the nurse feels the child needs to be seen by a doctor they will first call the parent to let them know of their child's sickness. Then, if the child is enrolled, can walk to PATH.
"Then the parent does not have to take off work, drive over and make an appointment," explained Rowe. "We can get the child diagnosed and treated sooner and quicker. They miss less school, the parent misses less work. I wish they had School Based Health Centers when my kids were in school. I definitely would have used it."
Rowe said in addition to offering preventative services like annual physicals, immunizations, hearing and vision screenings; PATH also offers health education and counseling services.
PATH is open to any child in the Pender County School system as well as their other siblings and parents as well.
"It cost nothing to be able to utilize it," Rowe said. "All you have to do is fill out our enrollment form and once a Pender County student is enrolled they are enrolled for as long as they are in a Pender County School, unless they decided to unenrolled. Then the visits are just like a regular doctor's office, it's the same co-pay as your insurance would charge you."
She said your child does not need to carry an insurance card or money. The bill would be sent to the parent by mail.
Another useful tool is their telehealth option. PATH's main office is at Pender High School, so that is where the nurse practitioner is located.
The other two sites, West Pender Middle and Cape Fear Elementary and Middle have registered nurses. However RN's cannot give the official diagnosis or prescribe prescription medication.
Instead, they will conduct the exam with the child, then they will use their telehealth to essentially facetime the nurse practitioner into the room for the final say and prescription authorization.
The nurse will use different tools to give the nurse practitioner an up close look at any cuts, scrapes, misshaped moles, swollen tonsils, sore ears etc. to determine their severity, if any.
The grand opening of the third and final PATH health center is Thursday at 4 p.m. at Cape Fear Elementary and Middle Schools.