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HAUSER — When school reopens, North Bay Elementary will have a school-based health center.

Lance Nelson, chief innovation officer at the Waterfall Community Health Center, said that the elementary clinic was in the works since last fall. It is a collaboration between Waterfall, Advanced Health and the North Bend School District.

“North Bend Schools is providing the space, Advanced Health is funding the remodel to make empty classrooms into a health clinic, and Waterfall will provide a nurse practitioner and a mental health therapist to work with the kids,” Nelson said.

Nelson explained that the school-based health model is popular across Oregon and that the North Bay Elementary principal seemed invested in the idea.

“Everything fell together where we said, ‘let’s give it a try,’” Nelson said. “(Waterfall) has been doing school-based services for years and years, sometimes in the school itself or outbuildings.”

The new North Bay Elementary center will be inside the school.

With having the center on site, Nelson said “one of the nice things is a licensed provider on site. We’d be working with pediatricians in the community and our nurse practitioner has pediatric experience.”

“If there is a patient that comes in with a sore throat, they could get a rapid strep test and find out if there’s strep and get some medication called in without ever leaving the school,” Nelson said. “We do immunizations, can send referrals to different specialists if needed, do a lot of vision and hearing screenings, and a lot of education on good hand washing techniques and good nutrition.”

With the new coronavirus pandemic now picking up in Coos County, Nelson believes having a medical professional on campus may ease parents' minds, someone who can monitor the environment and be an on-spot advisor. And though Nelson said it will be rare to test for COVID-19 through the clinic, “it would be available.”

The center will also have mental health services through a counselor station on-site, who has childhood counseling experience. Nelson said she will be able to help students with needs such as emerging symptoms of ADHD or who are presenting with depression or anxiety.

Construction for the center begins next Monday, Aug. 3 and is expected to be finished by the end of October or early November. Though the center may not be open if school starts before then, Nelson said Waterfall staff will be available on site as soon as students return to classes.

“It’s nice for Hauser because those folks have to make a little more commitment to get their kid to a doctor or a therapist, but now the student won’t miss half a day of school to get that done,” he said.

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 236, or by email at worldnews1@countrymedia.net. Follow her on Twitter: @je_wardwriter.

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