For parents, teachers, and students, navigating the past year has taken a lot of hard work, flexibility, and patience. It’s been especially hard on parents, continuing to work and earn money for their families while assisting their kids with online learning on top of their everyday parenting responsibilities.
The Belgrade Middle School Panther Clinic, a school-based healthcare clinic serving the Belgrade School District, helps alleviate the burden on parents. With the new Belgrade Middle School Panther Clinic – located inside Belgrade Middle School – students in elementary school, middle school, and high school can visit a primary care provider during school hours, so parents don’t have to take time off work to pick up their kids and take them to a provider. Staffed by a physician assistant (PA) and a medical assistant, students can get their required immunizations, sports physicals, regular check-ups, and more at the Panther Clinic without having to leave the campus.
“Looking at the demographics of the families in our district, this was a need we had to fill,” said Godfrey Saunders, superintendent of the Belgrade School District. “With blue-collar families, many with parents who work in Bozeman, I frequently heard from parents that they didn’t have time to take off work to come back to Belgrade and take their child to a healthcare visit.”
Understanding this need, the Belgrade School District formed a partnership with Community Health Partners (CHP) to provide accessible, affordable care to students right on their school campus.
For many parents, having healthcare providers on-site at school brings peace of mind. When a child feels sick or experiences a minor injury on the playground, they’re able to head to the Belgrade Middle School Panther Clinic and get the care they need. As an extension of the school staff and school nurses, the healthcare professionals at the Belgrade Middle School Panther Clinic are there to provide medical opinions and help decide on the best course of action regarding health issues.
“Recently, we had a young girl who fell outside and suffered a laceration above her eyebrow, “ said Lindsay Wimett, PA-C, a physician assistant at the Belgrade Middle School Panther Clinic. “Her favorite teacher accompanied her to the Belgrade Middle School Panther Clinic, as she was really scared. We were able to glue the cut shut, and she returned to the clinic over the next couple of days so we could make sure it was healing well.” Having the Belgrade Middle School Panther Clinic saved her family a trip to urgent care or the emergency room.
The Panther Clinic serves parents, families, and district staff in addition to students. Parents and their children can all see the same primary care provider at the Belgrade Middle School Panther Clinic at times that are more convenient for them, such as when parents come to pick their children up from school.
On a typical day at the Belgrade Middle School Panther Clinic, a teacher could get his blood pressure taken and prescriptions written; a mother could get her Pap smear and well-woman care; a child could receive a school or sports physical, wound/orthopedic care, diabetes management, or complete lab work.
“We know how expensive healthcare is,” said Superintendent Saunders. “We know how important it is for parents to make sure that they don’t have to take time off from work. This resource in our schools allows our students, parents, and staff to have dependable, competent healthcare at a reduced cost. I would encourage everyone to take advantage of it.”
The easiest way to set up an appointment at the Belgrade Middle School Panther Clinic is to call the clinic directly at 406.924.2478. The Belgrade Middle School Panther Clinic is open Monday and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesday - Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The clinic space is located close to the Middle School nurse’s office and features two exam rooms, a small lab, a bathroom, and a check-in area. CHP’s services at the school-based health center and its other locations are available to everyone regardless of ability to pay.
CHP accepts all insurance coverage, and a sliding fee discount is available to individuals and families who qualify based on family size and income. And while CHP offers both behavioral health and dental services in its other locations, currently, these will be unavailable at the Belgrade Middle School Panther Clinic, but referrals and telehealth appointments are available. The Belgrade School District and CHP will continue to evaluate services provided and adapt as needed.