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CHC staff to aid Libby schools

by WILL LANGHORNE
The Western News | October 29, 2021 7:00 AM

Administrators with Libby Public Schools approved bringing on a nurse and support staff from a local clinic to buttress mental and physical health earlier this month.

School board members signed off on a contract with the Northwest Community Health Center outlining the duties of the health care providers on Oct. 12. While the memorandum of agreement specifies that the nurse and support staff will be based at Libby Elementary School, officials said the providers would work with students and staff district-wide.

“We know the bulk of work is going to be in the elementary school,” said Dr. Joseph Chopyak, of the CHC. “But we have plenty of flexibility with staff to be able to cover the [Libby] Middle High School when it’s necessary.”

The primary duties of the CHC employees will be providing referrals for Libby students and staff, building health care plans for students in need, supporting health education within schools and managing immunizations and records. The nurse would also monitor medication distribution and would assist the district with managing students who require behavioral support.

As part of the agreement, CHC will organize all medical, dental and behavioral health screenings services for the district. The clinic will serve as the single point of contact for health-related projects in Libby Public Schools.

The memorandum of agreement would last two years but Superintendent Ron Goodman hoped the district would host CHC staff for longer by renewing the contract. While he expected there might be kinks to work out within the first year, Goodman said the contract created a good partnership between the district and the clinic.

“My 10 cents on this is that it is going to be a very good thing for students and schools,” he said.

The district and CHC expect the agreement will cost just over $126,000. Libby Public Schools will cover $60,000 and the clinic will foot the rest. A $45,000 grant will help the district pay for its portion of the agreement.