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School, healthcare district move toward better health for BUHS Students

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Kevin Flanigan and 2 othersKevin S. Flanigan, MD MBA, Chief Executive Officer of Northern Inyo Healthcare District; Colleen McEvoy, a NIHD Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner; and, Barry Simpson, Superintendent of Bishop Unified School District, stand in Bishop Union High School’s new on-campus health clinic, which opened to students on Jan. 23. McEvoy will be available to students every Tuesday throughout the remainder of the school year. Photo by Barbara Laughon/Northern Inyo Healthcare District
A new campus-based health clinic at Bishop Union High School opened its doors to students for the first time on Tuesday, Jan. 23. The clinic is designed to provide healthcare services to students in a more familiar setting and is the result of collaboration between Bishop Union High School and Northern Inyo Healthcare District.

The agreement between BUHS and NIHD calls for the school to offer space for the clinic while the healthcare district provides certified staff. The opening of the clinic was delayed last fall while school and healthcare district administrators worked out several unforeseen details.

With the start of a new semester underway, school officials signed off on those details at the most recent BUHS Board of Trustees’ meeting. The move gave the clinic staff the green light to open its doors for service.

NIHD Chief Executive Officer Kevin S. Flanigan, MD MBA, noted that Colleen McEvoy, a certified Nurse Practitioner with specialty training in adolescent care, staffs the clinic. Dr. Flanigan said McEvoy has been working towards this day ever since she arrived in Bishop nearly four years ago. She previously has worked in similar school-based clinics, seeing first-hand the positive impact these clinics can have on the health and welfare of teenagers.

Superintendent Barry Simpson stated, “We are extremely excited to begin this collaborative effort with the Northern Inyo Healthcare District. We greatly appreciate the support of Dr. Flanigan and Colleen McEvoy. We know our students will benefit greatly from the health services provided in this new clinic. We also know that having a certified Nurse Practitioner on campus, meeting with students in an environment where they feel most comfortable is a great opportunity for our school district.”

Superintendent Simpson further noted, “In a difficult fiscal environment, it is significant that our two organizations have been able to work together to find a way to expand health services for our under-served adolescent population. Thank you to the Northern Inyo Healthcare District Board of Trustees for their willingness to support this partnership.”

The clinic will be open on Tuesdays during school hours for the rest of the school year. Dr. Flanigan noted that if demand for services grows as expected, then NIHD will gladly increase the hours offered.

“Adolescence is such a critical time in a person’s development,” Dr. Flanigan said. “For a teenager, sometimes just knowing there is an expert he or she can turn to is enough. Other times getting up the courage to go and have something checked out can lay the foundation for better decision making as an adult.”

Most importantly, Dr. Flanigan said the clinic is there should a student have a severe health issue, one that if went unchecked by a medical expert, could negatively impact that student for life.  “With care and guidance from Colleen that student may no longer be a statistic, but instead grows up to be the adult he or she always dreamed of becoming,” he said.

The spirit of collaboration seems to have become a dominant theme between NIHD and BUHS during the past couple of years. NIHD orthopedic surgeons have attended many of the BUHS football games and provided immediate evaluations of injured athletes. Physical Therapists from NIHD now work with some of the school's runners to prevent injury and to help recover more quickly when injuries do occur. NIHD Dietitian Denice Hynd has spoken to students on the importance of nutrition. Surgery Technician Nita Eddy continues to work with students interested in pursuing healthcare careers.

In addition to the BUHS collaboration, NIHD is working with other Inyo County schools to meet the Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech-Language needs of all students.

When asked what else NIHD will be doing with the schools this year, Dr. Flanigan did not hesitate in his response. “We will do whatever we can to ensure that our students get to grow up and successfully chase their dreams,” he said. “Next on my list is to connect with the Big Pine School leadership and see where we can create another strong working collaboration.”