School Health Providers Report Busy First Semester

For nearly 20 years, the WPHF’s legacy program, the Coordinated Youth Initiative (CYI), a collection of school-based physical and emotional health and wellbeing services, has provided critical nursing services, mental health counseling, and health and wellness strategies needed to make a positive impact on Winter Park Consortium (WPC) students, their families and school staff. The CYI is comprised of four components: licensed school nurses, school based healthcare centers (SBHCs) located on the campuses of Glenridge Middle and Winter Park High School (WPHS), the CHILL counseling program, and Healthy School Yeams. Together, these services complement and build upon each other creating an effective model for delivery of healthcare services in a school setting.

Licensed school nurses serve the needs of children and youth from Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville.

The School Nursing Initiative (SNI) ensures a full-time, licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN) is on campus at each of the 12 Winter Park Consortium schools. Recently, school nurses identified trends they observed during the first semester of the 2016-17 school year:

  • An increase in Type 1 Diabetes in the secondary schools (middle and high)
  • An increase in documented food allergies
  • An increase in anxiety in students at all schools from elementary to high

A CYI nurse assists a student with a breathing treatment.

In discussion about the anxiety seen in their patients, the nurses noted that in several cases it was brought on as a result of having parents who had been diagnosed with significant medical conditions. While in elementary school, students with anxiety will often present with stomachaches; in the middle and high school level, students tend to self-report and will experience hyperventilation syndrome. The CHILL counselors are also helping to support these students. Additionally, through a grant from the Aetna Foundation, counselors and nurses will receive tips and strategies in mindfulness and techniques to help students manage their anxiety level.

 

Overall during the first semester, there were 16,968 total clinic visits combined in all 12 schools. Illness comprised the largest category of visits followed by accidents/injuries, medications and procedures. There was a 94% return to class rate, meaning students were able to have their medical needs addressed and avoid absences.

A Nurse Practitioner assists a student at the WPHS School Based Health Center (SBHC)

The SBHCs at Glenridge Middle School and Winter Park High School (WPHS) which are staffed by Advanced Registered Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (ARNPs), assisted 3,078 students during the first semester.  The nurse practitioners provide primary care to students in need, including school entry and sports physicals. The SBHCs and school nurses are extremely busy…it is not uncommon for nurses in the larger schools to provide care to 60-80 students in one school day!

 

CHILL room at Audubon Park Elementary.

CHILL—Community Help & Intervention in Life’s Lessons—is a free counseling program for students of all ages in the Winter Park Consortium schools who need help with issues such as anxiety, divorce, grief and loss, low self-esteem, anger management and depression. CHILL counselors focus on prevention and early intervention programs.  A total of 1,298 assessments were conducted by CHILL counselors at the start of the 2016-17 school year, up slightly from the first semester of last school year. With six interns to support the students as well, there are currently 726 students enrolled in CHILL. The counselors provided 3,902 individual counseling sessions, 792 group sessions and 1,545 family sessions. At 41%, parents remain the most common source of referrals. Dealing with feelings and stress management are the most commonly requested and held group sessions. In addition to providing the twelve-week counseling program, CHILL counselors are often relied upon to respond to crisis situations at the schools. The counselors also provide presentations on mental health topics, such as coping and emotional regulation strategies, and how to use digital media in a healthy way. To date, counselors have provided 248 presentations to students, teachers and parents. Counselors are also working on developing easily digestible “bites” of emotional health tips and strategies that will be available on video via social media, such as YouTube. With the understanding that everyone’s lives are busy and many people access information on their smart phone, the videos will be short, easy to access and serve as important lessons on how to keep our minds healthy and happy.

 

WPHS staff participate in a yoga class after school.

Healthy School Teams (HSTs) continue to challenge and change the health and wellness culture within their schools. HSTs involve key school staff such as the nurse, CHILL counselor, cafeteria manager, physical education teacher, and administrative leadership. Often, those with a passion for health, parents and other community members, join school personnel in health promotion through messaging, materials and events. During the first semester of 2016-17 school year, HST leaders focused on staff wellness and emotional health. WPHF staff and HST leaders are working with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and OCPS Food and Nutrition Services to implement a Farm to School Grant. The grant will, in part, increase school gardens and assist with strategies to certify schools through the USDA’s Healthier US School Challenge. The HST leader at Hungerford Elementary School applied for and received $3,500 from Fuel Up to Play 60, an initiative of the NFL and National Dairy Council, to implement wellness activities at the school.

The WPHF is proud to support the work of the nurses, counselors and Healthy School Teams as they strive to ensure the health and wellbeing of students, families and staff throughout the school year.  To learn more about the Coordinated Youth Initiative, visit the Healthy Kids Today website created by WPHF. On the website, you can also sign up to receive the weekly Healthy Kids Today e-newsletter.