LAMAR COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - When your kids are in school, teachers are taking care of your child’s education and nurses are taking care of the child.
In the Lamar County School District, Director of Human Resources Chris Wooten said there is a different kind of nurse that isn’t in very many school districts.
“That’s what the nurses are here for, they keep the students in class and they learn more,” Wooten said.
Wooten has seen first-hand the positve impact Medicaid nurses have in the school district.
“They have been able to send things home to the parents saying, ‘You need to have your child tested for something,’” Wooten said.
He said the idea of Medicaid nurses started in 2014. Wooten said the district applied for a five year nurse intervention grant with the Mississippi Department of Education. Thanks to the $250,000 grant, the district hired two part-time Medicaid nurses to take care of the Medicaid health screening needs of the children that qualify.
“Our nurses go to each school, they schedule them, and we get reimbursed from Medicaid,” Wooten said.
Wooten said the Medicaid nurses have not only been a help to parents who didn’t know they qualified for Medicaid, but they have made caring for the kids easier for school nurses like Hagan Barber.
"It is a continuum of care,” Barber said.
She said the Medicaid nurses have taken on the red tape, so school nurses can focus on the daily care of the district’s kids. She described all the work the Medicaid nurses handle that school nurses didn’t have time to do.
“So much time that goes in to preparing the paperwork, making sure there is an available screening, billing through Medicaid,” Barber said.
One of the part-time Lamar County Medicaid nurses, Jennifer Goodwin, said she performs health screenings that can help parents stay on top of their kids well-being.
“We can catch a lot of things in the beginning like, for instance, if their hemoglobin is low, we can catch that," Goodwin said. “We can call the parents and let them know they need to follow up with their pediatrician.”
Both Barber and Wooten said parents opting in to the health screenings have grown, but they believe there are more parents out there who can take advantage of the care the Medicaid nurses offer and the benefits of the screenings.