Lora Martin, family nurse practitioner in the School of Nursing, gives Raygen Pirtle, Galloway Elementary School student, a check-up in her school's health clinic.
Lora Martin, family nurse practitioner in the School of Nursing, gives Raygen Pirtle, Galloway Elementary School student, a check-up in her school's health clinic.
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Newest JPS school-based clinic helps keep grade-schoolers well

Published on Monday, September 24, 2018

By: Ruth Cummins

After Jackson Public Schools made the tough decision in spring 2018 to close 193-student Brown Elementary due to low enrollment and aging facilities, the school’s student body transferred this fall to Galloway Elementary.

And so did Brown’s school-based health clinic staffed by the University of Mississippi School of Nursing.

“I had open arms,” said Marvin Davis, principal of 470-student Galloway. “Any opportunity to improve our students’ health is welcome.”

The University of Mississippi Medical Center, School of Nursing and school district on Sept. 20 introduced the clinic to the community surrounding Galloway, a pre-K through 5th grade school and one of the district’s 38 elementaries. The School of Nursing also staffs JPS-district clinics at Johnson Elementary, at 1339 Oak Park Drive; and Lanier High, at 833 W. Maple St.

Taking part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Galloway Health Clinic are, from left, Gary Hannah, Dr. Kim Hoover, Dr. Anne Norwood, Ivoryiona Brown, Dr. Janet Harris, Marvin Daniels and Dr. Jonathan Wilson.

School of Nursing administrators and the district worked quickly to establish the Galloway clinic. “The buy-in was real,” said Dr. Anne Norwood, professor of nursing and a nurse practitioner who staffs and directs the clinic at Johnson, which opened in 1999. “To be able to come into Galloway and have a clinic that can see patients, assess health, diagnose, prescribe and refer out was a lot more beneficial and a lot more cost-effective for taxpayers.”

The nursing staff sees a variety of ailments, including “headaches, sore throats, sinus infections and sinus drainage, congestion and lots of rashes,” said Lora Martin, a family nurse practitioner with the School of Nursing who staffs the Galloway clinic. “I’ve seen some bones that were broken, and I sent them to the Medical Center’s pediatric Emergency Department.”

It’s a boon to working parents and those with limited financial resources for their children to be seen in the school-based clinics. Parents have the option of giving permission for their child to be treated and designating a pharmacy where prescriptions can be called in by clinic staff. Staff calls parents to update them on any care delivered. If the parent can’t be reached, a note goes home with the child detailing diagnosis and treatment.

Makynzee Taylor, left, and Raygen Pirtle, Galloway Elementary School students, show Dr. Anne Norwood, professor of nursing in the School of Nursing, how they breathe.

Sharon McElwain and Kathy Rhodes, both assistant professors and family nurse practitioners, also lend helping hands at Galloway. Cheryl Ervin-Jones serves as Galloway’s patient services coordinator. Also on clinic staff at 418-student Johnson Elementary is family nurse practitioner Dr. Molly Moore, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing.

While the Lanier clinic has a number of funding sources, the clinics at Galloway and Johnson are funded through the Mississippi Department of Education.

Tassica Stamps, whose daughter Raygan Pirtle is a Galloway student, said Raygan was seen at the Brown Elementary clinic last year. “I absolutely love it,” she said of the school-based clinics, which offer both flu and strep testing.

“With me working and my crazy schedule, this is great,” she said. “Raygan has had strep four or five times already. When she had strep last year and went to the Brown clinic, I was able to get her antibiotics and then pick her up. I didn’t have to pick her up from school and then rush her somewhere else to be seen.”

Not only do children receive care for acute illness, but they receive well-child checkups and education that promotes everyday wellness.

“Part of the well-child checkup is addressing things including nutrition, good choices, no tobacco use, gun safety, exercise and oral care. We teach them at an early age about college, making good grades and staying in school,” Norwood said. “We even do depression screenings. It’s a totally holistic approach to the child.

“We look to see if they’re safe. Who do they live with? Do they have running water? Some kids don’t have running water, and some don’t have food.”

Families can take advantage of Galloway’s food pantry stocked with donated non-perishables and fresh produce. “We teach them what foods are good for you and what’s bad for you, and we talk to the parents as well,” Norwood said.

The clinics also are a rich training ground for nursing, medical and nurse practitioner students and pediatric residents.  During the 2017-18 school year alone, they logged more than 2,600 hours of clinical experience.

“They check in patients and do vital signs,” Norwood said. “We are able not only to provide a community service, but we teach the students at UMMC what it’s like to be in a child environment. It helps them to be more comfortable around them.

“A lot of the children will tell us things that they won’t tell other people,” she said. “The clinic is a safe place, and they get individualized attention. It’s not just a clinic.”

Lanier’s Teen Wellness Clinic opened in October 2015 and teaches the 634 students how to adopt a healthier lifestyle in addition to delivering primary medical care. It’s staffed by clinic director Dr. Kate Fouquier, associate professor of nursing and a certified nurse midwife; nurse practitioners Koscher Jackson and John Farr; patient administrator and data manager Jasymin Shepherd; health education specialist Tori Jones; and Dianne Mounger, a social worker with the Mississippi Department of Health.

Koscher Jackson, a family nurse practitioner at the Lanier High School Teen Wellness Clinic, checks Iverson Brown's ears. Brown is a student at Lanier.

UMMC and the School of Nursing also operate four clinics in the Mississippi Delta through its Mercy Delta Express Project, which provides mobile school-based medical and dental health care and health education to about 1,100 children in the South Delta School District. Clinics are operated at South Delta High in Rolling Fork, South Delta Middle in Anguilla, South Delta Elementary in Rolling Fork, and Ripley-Blackwell Head Start Center in Rolling Fork.

They’re overseen by Dr. Lisa Haynie, a nurse practitioner and School of Nursing professor, and also serve as a clinical learning environment for UMMC nursing, medical and dental students in addition to pediatric residents.

Already, dozens of children have been seen at the Galloway clinic. “It’s a great benefit to all of us,” Davis said. “It increases our attendance. The children are healthier and well maintained.”

“We’re always looking for community sponsors. We are on a limited budget, and donations are always welcome,” Norwood said.

“UMMC has a giving heart,” Norwood said. “Our goal is serving others and taking care of the people of Mississippi, especially these children.”

To donate to the School of Nursing school-based clinics, go to, Select Category> School of Nursing Options, Select Fund> School of Nursing Clinic Fund.