Monroe County Schools and Chota Community Health Services (CCHS) have been cooperating to make sure the schools are safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CCHS provides funding to the Monroe County Board of Education for school nurses.

According to CCHS Chief Executive Officer Laura Harris, the partnership started in an attempt to provide school-based clinics in the Monroe County Schools.

“Those nurses provide services for special education, administer daily routine medicines and provide first aid among other school related duties,” Harris said. “In addition to those duties, they also serve as support staff for CCHS’s school-based clinics. CCHS has a team of nurse practitioners that provide a full range of primary care services to the students and staff.”

The nurse practitioners have a regular schedule at five of the 12 schools in the system and visit the other seven when needed.

The school-based clinics started in August of 2000 with a federal Rural Health Outreach Grant that lasted three and a half years.

“The Monroe County Board of Education decided to provide funding to keep the school-based clinic program going in 2004 and 2005. In December 2005, CCHS applied for the Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act grant to become a Federally Qualified Health Center,” noted Harris. “Upon receiving this grant, the school-based clinics became CCHS service sites and this is when the partnership started with the Monroe County Board of Education. This month marks the 20th anniversary of the school-based clinic program.”

Harris believes the partnership between the two entities is “very important.”

“Being able to provide healthcare services to the students and faculty in the school setting has allowed us to have a more direct impact on the health of the youth in our community,” Harris said. “We feel that the school-based clinic program is critical to the success of our students, and we’re proud to be able to support that endeavor.”

CCHS’ school based clinics have been used as a model in the State of Tennessee, according to Harris.

In 2010, the Tennessee Primary Care Association (TPCA) extended an invitation to CCHS to speak to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pension.

She believes the partnership with Monroe County Schools helps progress the mission CCHS was founded on.

“Chota Community Health Services is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide high quality, affordable healthcare to the Monroe County community,” she stated. “Our partnership with the school system allows us to further this mission by increasing awareness and access to healthcare through our services on-site at the schools.”

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