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Meritus to add two nurses to school health services

Washington County Board of Education unanimously approves one-year contract for the medical center to continue to provide services

July 16, 2013|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

Two nurses will be added for this school year to the health-services program Meritus Medical Center Inc. provides to Washington County Public Schools, a Meritus Health official said Tuesday.

The Washington County Board of Education on Tuesday unanimously approved a one-year contract for Meritus Medical Center Inc. to continue to provide student health services beginning next month. The cost of the program is not to exceed $2,793,785, according to a copy of the agreement.

Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox said there is every indication the program will come in under budget while providing more services during the coming school year.

The school system hired Meritus Medical Center Inc., a nonprofit subsidiary of Meritus Health, to begin providing student health services at the start of the 2012-13 school year after the Washington County Board of Commissioners cut funding for the county health department to provide those services. County officials made the move to free up money to pay for a portion of teacher pension costs the state passed on to local jurisdictions.

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The new contract runs from Aug. 15, 2013, to Aug. 14, 2014.

The school board tabled approval of the contract last month after one board member called the supporting documents confusing and wanted more questions answered.

Board members on Tuesday asked several questions, including about the difference between the positions the program provides in schools.

Meritus Health official Jody Bishop said in addition to having a registered nurse at Ruth Ann Monroe Primary school near Hagerstown, either a licensed practical nurse or a certified medical technician position will be added to help with health-service demands, including children with specific health needs.

Bishop is the nursing director who oversees the school nurse program’s budget and contract issues.

A registered nurse position also will be added to the overall program to help fill in for other medical professionals in schools when they are unavailable, Bishop said.

School system officials said state officials are keeping a close eye on the public-private partnership.

Associate Superintendent Mike Markoe said he wasn’t aware of any similar agreements for student health services in other public school systems in the state.

Markoe said he thinks the state is watching to see if such a partnership could work in other school systems, including whether it’s cost-efficient and good for students.

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