At the heart of Frontier Nursing University is a talented and diverse community of students, alumni, faculty, staff, Couriers and preceptors. Spotlight blogs feature our FNU community members that are focused on the mission of educating nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners to deliver quality healthcare to underserved and rural populations.
It’s easy to forget what life was like before the COVID-19 Pandemic, but it was just in the spring of 2019 that Charles Davis, Ph.D., MSN, FNP-C, AE-C, Class 154 came up with an idea to help the students in the Webutuck Central School District in Amenia, New York. Employed as a nurse by the school district, Davis took action to bring an in-school based health clinic into the district.
“My district is a rural community in Dutchess County, New York,” Davis said. “Greater than 60% met a metric that classifies them as economically disadvantaged. Many also fit the category of being medically underserved and underinsured. Thus, these students face many barriers to getting their healthcare needs addressed including access to providers, transportation, and the ability of parents and guardians to take off work to have initial or follow-up appointments. Even parents/guardians that work as professionals and that have an easier time flex-timing from work still have challenges because the rural nature of our community means their jobs are often some distance away.”
Davis approached the district superintendent with his idea, arguing that a school-based health center breaks down those barriers. Furthermore, under New York State’s school-based health centers’ operation model, all services are delivered to the recipient without cost. He presented evidence demonstrating that students with access to school-based health centers not only have better overall physical and mental health but also improved educational outcomes, reduced chronic absenteeism and risky behaviors, improved management of chronic diseases, and a better-developed foundation for a successful transition to adulthood.
“Where better to provide comprehensive continuous primary and preventative care, acute care, chronic illness care, and referral management than the place where the students spend the majority of their waking hours?” Davis theorized.
With the approval of the district’s leadership and board of education, Davis moved forward to the task of complying with state regulations requiring in-school health centers to have a viable and qualified healthcare facility collaborator. By the end of the 2019-20 school year, he had found the necessary partner in the Open Door Family Medical Centers in Ossining, New York. Open Door was an ideal choice because it is a federally qualified health center with experience operating school-based health centers in other parts of the state.
With the required partner secured, the school board agreed, and the process of securing funding ensued. On May 4, 2020, the Foundation for Community Health in Sharon, Connecticut awarded the Webutuck school district a $100,000 grant to proceed with the in-school clinic. This funding was combined with $50,000 from New York State, resulting in the necessary dollars that will allow construction and remodeling of the health center’s space to occur, and a target opening of the beginning of the 2020-21 school year was projected.
Currently, the opening of the clinic is being delayed by the pandemic to at least the
beginning of the 2021-22 school year. Davis, however, continues to advocate for student healthcare throughout the state, recently collaborating with Webutuck Central School District Director of Curriculum and Development Jennifer Eraca to present to the New York State School Board Association on the value of school-based health centers.
“I wouldn’t be doing this without FNU, its faculty — especially Dr. Lisa Chappell and the
educators associated with the Family Nursing Practitioner Program, staff, and the vision and spirit of Mrs. Mary Breckinridge,” said Davis, who grew up in Coeburn, a small town in southwest Virginia, not far from FNU’s original Hyden campus. “Mrs. Breckinridge’s legacy and spirit are strong.”
Thank you, Charles, for all of the hard work and dedication you have to ensure that rural New York school children receive this vital access to care!
Are you interested in learning more about the great work of FNU alumni members? Visit the FNU Alumni blog!