WINFIELD - When students in Putnam County need to see a doctor, they don't have to miss school.
That is, if they attend one of the schools served by FamilyCare or Valley Health and sign up for services with the doctors or nurses who come to the schools each week.
"We offer basically any services that you could receive in a medical office," said Dawn Grigsby, a nurse practitioner for FamilyCare. "We sort of collaborate; we have a different role than the actual county school nurses, but we kind of work together, both roles being very necessary."
Grigsby covers six schools in Winfield, Eleanor and Buffalo for FamilyCare: Buffalo Elementary, George Washington Elementary, Putnam Career and Technical Center, Winfield Elementary, Winfield Middle and Winfield High schools.
The term for what Grigsby does is school-based health, and it's a model of care that takes medical services into the community where they're needed.
"We do Well Child, acute care, headache, sinus problems, sore throat, rashes, conjunctivitis-anything and everything you might bring a kid to a pediatrician for," Grigsby said.
FamilyCare serves about 420 students per school year.
Valley Health Systems offers similar services at Lakeside Elementary and Poca High School.
"This is our third year with the program, my second, and every year our enrollment has grown and pretty markedly, too," Grigsby said. "We're not trying to take the place of their pediatrician; we're just there to bridge the gap, if you will."
Teachers often take advantage of the in-school healthcare, too.
"Our whole purpose is to provide convenient, comprehensive services," Grigsby said, "to be in school where kids are, when it's convenient for them."
Not only do the kids not have to leave school - and Grigsby said that they make every effort not to remove students from critical classes - but parents don't have to leave work.
"Occasionally they will come," Grigsby said. "I've actually gotten to school and the parent is there with the child waiting to see us."
But usually Grigsby communicates with the parents before, during and after the exam so they don't have to leave work.
Assistant Superintendent Penny Fisher said all it takes is for parents to sign a form for their students have access to health services in school.
"Then the student can just go check in if they feel bad, or if they need a specific thing," Fisher said. "They'll also do some referrals, make arrangements for dental services. They'll get the student matched up with whoever they need.