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Health centers reopen at South Hagerstown High, Western Heights Middle

February 12, 2013|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — Two school-based health centers, now run by Meritus Health, re-opened Tuesday at South Hagerstown High School and Western Heights Middle School.

Jesus Cepero, the vice president of nursing at Meritus Health and Melissa Nearchos, the senior grant manager for the county’s Office of Community Grant Management, told the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday that the centers, which were closed at the end of the 2011-12 school year, had re-opened that day.

Funding for the centers is from a $190,000 Maryland Department of Education Grant to the county and the county is paying Meritus to operate the centers, Meritus spokeswoman Nicole Jovel said.

Students do not need to have health insurance to have access to the centers, but insured students can also use the centers, Nearchos said. Students at the schools were sent home Tuesday with letters informing parents about the centers, she said.

Health screenings, physicals, vaccinations and treatment for illness and injury will be available to students, as well as referrals for mental health, counseling and dental services, a Meritus Health press release said.

The centers are in those two schools because it was determined there was the greatest need for health care access among the students, Nearchos said.

The center at South Hagerstown High will be open on Mondays and Thursday, and on Tuesday and Fridays at Western Heights, said Nearchos.

Dr. Laura Henderson, who said she has practiced internal and pediatric medicine in this area for eight years, will staff the centers, along with a licensed practical nurse.

There were three school-based health centers opened for half days that closed at the end of the 2011-12, Jovel said. The centers at South Hagerstown and Western Heights will be open full days and a third center will open at another school in the fall, she said.

The centers were previously run by the Washington County Health Department, but running the school health program was turned over to Meritus Health last year, Nearchos said.

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