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Jan 8, 2020, Marlinton, WV, Pocahontas Times: School system increasing medical staff for student safety Schools have become much more than just places to learn. They are a social network, an extended family and sometimes, a doctor’s office. … the medical issues of students today have grown to the point that a medical professional is needed full-time. To meet the needs of the students, superintendent of schools Terrence Beam said the Pocahontas County Board of Education is seeking two LPNs to assist school nurse Jenny Friel. “Our kids are coming to us with all kinds of emotional and physical issues that – up to this point – we have been unable to provide the assistance that was necessary,” Beam said. “The actual physical condition of the kids is different than it was twenty years ago. We have more diabetic students. We have more kids with major allergies. We have kids with seizure disorders.” Friel, as the only school nurse, has been serving five schools. Although Community Care of West Virginia has school-based clinics in all the schools, they are not available every day of the week, which leads to concerns about emergencies and students with chronic illnesses. “We have to provide better care for our kids, and we are at the point now, through watching our dollars and making better personnel decisions, that we’ve freed up a little bit of money so we can do these kinds of things,” Beam said. “I know we have medical help in our schools with Community Care and Youth Health Services, but having an LPN on staff is important.” … In addition to physical medical concerns, there is also an increase in social and emotional issues, which Beam hopes to also address soon. “The next step we’re going to take is to employ a social worker for our schools,” Beam said. “A social worker will be able to go into the homes and work with the parents, as well as work with the students at school. We have some qualified people in Pocahontas County that may have an interest in that position, so I think we’ll be able to fill it.”… “That’s another step we’re going to take,” he said. “We’re going to expand our counseling services…. Beam said he hopes the additions will help students cope with the emotional and physical issues they face each day. “Sometimes we focus a lot on the academics and the athletics in our school systems, but we really need to look at the physical and the mental condition of our kids, because it is difficult,” he said. … “Medical needs won’t wait, and you can’t predict when they’re going to get worse,” he said. “You never know when the next student is going to come in with major medical issues. “We can’t hesitate on this.”


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