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School nurse program gets $31,100

The Asante Ashland Community Hospital School Nurse Program received $31,100 in May to continue meeting the health needs of local students.

The Reed and Carolee Walker Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation granted the program $30,000. The Walker Fund has donated $535,000 to the program since 2005.

Another grant came from the Ashland Food Co-op, for $500 from a healthy foods initiative, and a third grant of $600 was awarded by Soroptimist International of Ashland to support the SOS Suicide Prevention Curriculum.

The school nurse program provides nurses in the public K-8 schools in Ashland, and in Talent Elementary School and Talent Middle School, which Phoenix middle schoolers attend, according to Stephanie Roland, assistant to the director of the foundation.

“They offer a broad range of health services for students, and for many students who visit a school nurse, it can often be their first interaction with a health care provider,” Roland said.

“They do more than Band-Aids and scratches and scrapes. It is a full complement of services, and they do a lot of referrals. They can help kids and their parents navigate the health care system, including finding dental, eye and behavioral health care providers.”

The school nurse program costs about $240,000 a year and is funded in partnership by Asante Ashland Community Hospital, Ashland School District and Phoenix/Talent School District.

Roland said the healthy foods initiative came about because school nurses were recognizing symptoms of food insecurity, so rather than treating a stomachache or a headache with medication, they give the kids healthful snacks. The Co-Op and Shop’n Kart provide the nurses with vouchers that they can use in the stores to purchase snacks.

School Nurse Program supervisor Belinda Brown said the free and reduced-price school lunch rate in the Ashland district is between 15% and 35%.

“There’s probably not a day that goes by that I don’t encounter a child with food insecurity,” Brown said.

School nurses also work with the SOS Suicide Prevention Curriculum, she said. It allows the school nurses to enter health classes and discuss signs of suicide, available resources for a child who is suicidal, and what to do for a friend who is suicidal.

It also allows the nurses to have drop-in hours to talk with kids on an individual basis.

Aside from suicide, the curriculum covers mental health in general, such as anxiety and depression, and treatment for the conditions.

“School nurses have a unique perspective and the ability to treat the whole child and meet the comprehensive health needs of the child,” Brown said.

School nurses provide health care services for about 20 students a day and help more than 2,900 students a year.

Contact Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at cfowlkes@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.

Left to right: Ashland Co-op Marketing Manager{ }Tracy Kaiser, School Nurse Program Supervisor Belinda Brown and{ }Stephanie Roland, Assistant to the Director of the Asante Ashland Community Hospital Foundation at the grant ceremony in Ashland. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Roland.{ }