06/12/05 — SWHS will get health center

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SWHS will get health center

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 12, 2005 2:03 AM

The Wayne Initiative for School Health, or WISH, has been awarded a $125,000 grant that will be used to establish a school-based health center at Southern Wayne High School in the fall.

The three-year grant is from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust of Winston-Salem. Created in 1947 to be used for health-related programs and services across North Carolina, a quarter of the grants are designated for the poor and needy of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County.

Dr. David Tayloe, WISH medical director, said the announcement means middle school students already enrolled in the centers established at Mount Olive and Brogden middle schools will be guaranteed the same quality of healthcare during their high school years.

"We currently have such an arrangement at Goldsboro High School so that the students who are enrolled in WISH at Goldsboro Middle and Dillard Middle schools have continuity of care as they enter high school," he said.

For eight years, WISH has provided health care services to adolescents in Wayne County, Tayloe said. Founded in 1997, the program has provided services to more than 12,000 youths, he said.

"Over 85 percent of our students in the WISH Center schools are enrolled in WISH, giving the vast majority of our students access to the comprehensive package of physical health, mental health and health education services that the WISH board believes will allow them to experience the best outcomes possible as young adults in our community," he said.

Expanding the program is quite an accomplishment, said Phyllis Hill, WISH director.

"Having established it in two high schools, we have really come a long way in providing health care to students," she said.

The grant will pay for a full-time registered nurse at Southern Wayne as well as providing medical supplies, nutrition and mental health services and educational programs, she said.

From its inception, Tayloe said, the goal for WISH has been to target areas where there have been children considered at-risk.

"When we first presented it to the school board, they wanted us to stay away from high schools because of the state laws on sexual issues," he said. So, at the outset, the centers were launched through several middle schools, he said.

Unfortunately, Tayloe said, "By starting all that at the middle school and falling off at high school, we were losing any momentum we had with children at high school."

Obtaining funding from local sources, credentialing all the school-based centers and lobbying at the state level, must have impressed the decision-makers for the charitable trust, Tayloe said.

"It always helps when you're showing why you want a grant," he said.

Tayloe said the WISH program has long received support through the collaborative efforts of Wayne Memorial Hospital, Wayne County Health Department, Wayne County Public Schools, Wayne County Department of Social Services, Eastpointe, and Wellsprings PA, as well as Goldsboro Pediatrics and Communities in Schools.

Tayloe said he has always been committed to the preventive aspect of the program and its cost benefits to the county.

"It costs between $340,000 to $400,000 a year to run six centers," he said. "Still, it's a savings every time you prevent a pregnancy. It saves the system $160,000, which is what they estimate it costs to raise a child from birth to kindergarten.

"And every time you keep a child out of the juvenile justice system, you save as well. I think the future is bright."