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    Wednesday, December 07, 2022

    UCFS will run Norwich Free Academy school-based health center

    Norwich – Norwich Free Academy on Monday announced a three-year agreement with United Community and Family Services to run its school-based health center starting in August, offering medical and behavioral health services.

    UCFS will take over the school-based health center, which had been run for about 20 years by Child and Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut, based in New London. Lisa Wheeler, NFA director of student services, said Child and Family Agency notified NFA in February that due to budget cuts, it could not continue running the school-based health center at NFA.

    At the same time, the Child and Family Agency notified UCFS, which already runs three behavioral health centers in Norwich Public Schools, and UCFS worked out the partnership with NFA, said Pam Kinder, UCFS vice president of business development.

    The NFA Board of Trustees approved $12,000 to retrofit space in the Latham Building on the main campus to house the health center. That space is expected to be licensed and ready to open in August, but families of NFA students can sign up for services provided at other UCFS health facilities in Norwich prior to the opening, school and UCFS officials said.

    Wheeler said it will be a “pretty smooth transition,” since many families of NFA students already use UCFS services.

    “It’s a great partnership,” she said.

    The school-based center will have a full-time advanced practice registered nurse and a full-time behavioral health clinician, both with expertise in adolescent health. The center’s physical services will include yearly well-child examinations, vaccinations, sports physicals, and acute and chronic care visits, with an emphasis upon prevention through early intervention and education.

    Dental care will be available on site, including oral health screenings, X-rays, fluoride treatments, and cleanings.

    Behavioral Health will offer services in mental health assessments, substance abuse screenings, and counseling.

    “Fortunately, families are used to UCFS through Norwich schools,” Kinder said. “We’re already getting students who use the behavioral health services and will need continued care. People can call now to set up appointments.”

    Kinder and Cara Westcott, chief operating officer at UCFS, said families may schedule sports physicals or back-to-school physicals now for August, when the center opens, or at UCFS facilities beforehand.

    “We are working hard to ensure that the word is out and that students can come to the center for services,” Kinder said.

    The center will be funded through families’ medical insurance coverage. While the school-based health center’s staff is expected to be busy with a steady stream of student patients, Kinder and Westcott said during slow times, the staff can work with NFA’s health science teachers to discuss prevention and mental health issues and with the athletic department to ensure sports physicals are up to date.

    UCFS also runs school-based health centers with physical and behavioral health services at Montville High School and Norwich Technical High School and runs behavioral health centers at Kelly STEAM Magnet Middle School, Teachers’ Memorial Global Studies Magnet Middle School and at the John B. Stanton Elementary School, all in Norwich.


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