Montgomery Foundation Spring Event to benefit School Health Centers
Gina Smith, FNP
TROY – We live in an era of fast-paced technology, global development and constant change. Yet, in Montgomery County, one thing has remained the same.
“Our community may look different,” says Kerry Hensley, president of FirstHealth Montgomery Memorial Hospital. “Our industries have changed. Our schools and our health organizations offer many new services. But people in Montgomery County haven’t forgotten what it means to be a good neighbor. They take care of one another. They always have, and I suspect they always will.”
The idea of Montgomery County people giving back to their community is the founding principle of the FirstHealth Montgomery Foundation.
“It’s a community foundation,” says Hensley. “All of our fundraising supports programs and services that we deliver directly to our community. Thanks to generous local donors, we’ve been able to do a lot of very good things.”
This year, funds raised through the Foundation’s Annual Spring Event will support services that reach out to children in Montgomery County through the FirstHealth Montgomery County School Health Centers, East & West.
Being successful in today’s changing world requires a strong foundation and, across Montgomery County, students as young as 4 and 5 are learning how to use computers, developing reading skills and solving math problems. Although they may not know it now, these are the building blocks for their future and the future of their community.
Teachers will quickly tell you that being ready to learn is about much more than following directions or recognizing letters and numbers. Reading, writing and arithmetic take a back seat when a child is sick or hungry or can’t see the chalkboard.
For most of us, going to the doctor means a trip across town to a medical office or a hospital. For many Montgomery County students, the “doctor’s office” is on the school campus, just steps away from the classroom door, where a patient service representative, on-site registered nurse and a family nurse practitioner are available to provide care. In fact, the School Health Centers at East and West Middle schools recorded more than 6,000 visits during the 2008-2009 school year alone.
Numbers don’t tell stories, though.
- Consider the student with cancer whose family couldn’t afford dietary supplements.
- Think about the child whose father is elderly with no transportation other than a bicycle. Simply getting to and from medical appointments is nearly impossible.
- Imagine the parent who can’t miss work another day this month but needs to have his child vaccinated so that she can continue to attend school.
FirstHealth of the Carolinas, in partnership with Montgomery County Schools, is committed to reaching these children and helping their families through services at the two School Health Centers.
Each center provides physical, mental, nutritional, and health and wellness care. Prior permission is required from the parents or legal guardian of any child who is seen there.
The centers also work with teachers and school staff to provide education about nutrition and exercise and other wellness services. This year, the centers’ staffs helped distribute H1N1 vaccines and made certain that children with symptoms were quickly separated from other children.
In a state where programs are being cut and budgets are changing due to wide-spread economic problems, the School Health Centers provide care regardless of the family’s ability to pay. As more parents find themselves unemployed and uninsured, the need for the centers has become even more evident.
“We hear from parents and teachers every day expressing their appreciation for our services,” says certified family nurse practitioner Regina Smith. “Many of them don’t have transportation or money for gas, medicines or office visits. We are very grateful to the FirstHealth Montgomery Foundation for their support so that we can continue to make a difference in the lives of children in Montgomery County.”
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