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Dombrowsky opens PECI Health Clinic

PEC Memorial Hospital Auxiliary members Shirley White and Joyce Minaker inside the new Panther health clinic at PECI with MPP Leona Dombrowsky and local Nurse Practitioner De-Ann Sheppard. Dombrowksy officially opened the clinic Monday morning. Sue Capon photo

At the official opening of the new health clinic at PECI are MPP Leona Dombrowsky with PEC Hospital Auxiliary members Joyce Minaker and Shirley White; nurse practitioner Dee-Ann Sheppard and PECI Students' Council co-presidents Brittany Williams and Scott Kuipers.

Local Nurse Practitioner De-Ann Sheppard is going back to school but this time it’s to provide primary health care to students of Prince Edward Collegiate Institute in Picton.
Ms Sheppard came from Pembroke to work for the Prince Edward Family Health Team in September 2009. She practises mostly from the Family Health Team’s Upper County Clinic in Rossmore but has developed a strong connection with Family Health Team clinics in Picton and Wellington. She proposed opening a clinic in the local high school as a response to two Family Health Team goals: to improve health care services through community partnerships; and, to make health care more accessible and relevant to PEC’s adolescents and young adults.
The support from officials within Prince Edward Collegiate Institute was extremely positive. Meetings with school councillor Rob Furmidge led to support and involvement from new Principal Shelley MacKenzie-Coates and the clinic was soon a reality.
The clinic has been a community effort.  PECI offered free office/clinical space to the Prince Edward Family Health Team who in turn agreed to provide nurse practitioners and administrative support at the school one day per week. A PEFHT doctor donated a used exam table and PECI student and parent volunteers painted the office and the exam table in school colours.
Sheppard says that “We had the space and the clinical and administrative staff but other than an exam table we were without furnishings and had no laptop computers that we could dedicate to this program.” She adds that, “A hallmark making this service unique is that our school clinic would be a full Family Health Team clinic connected through our electronic health record system to all of our services – family physicians, nurse practitioners, specialists and clinics. We could not have opened the clinic without furnishings and the students receiving services would not have had full access to our health care services if we did not have laptops and internet access.”
The Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary came immediately to the rescue with a generous donation of $5000 enabling the purchase of both  furnishings and laptops for the clinic.
Dr. Greg Higgins, President of the Prince Edward Family Health Team notes that while many of the Family Health Team’s programs and services are designed to respond to the needs of the County’s older population, “We have never lost sight of the health care needs of our children and adolescents. We made very important gains in their services when we recruited a paediatrician, as well as a child and adolescent psychiatrist.  With this new clinic, our Board is very pleased that we are now able to bring primary health care to our young people directly within the school.”
PECI currently enrols more than 900 students from Grades 9-12. A brief review of current literature quickly identifies sexual health, mental health, and addiction issues as key issues for today’s adolescence. The primary care clinic will augment the other community supports from which PECI has benefitted – a long standing relationship with Picton based family health team physician Dr. Anne Nancekievill, the support of a Public Health Nurse from the Hastings & Prince Edward Counties Health Unit as well as on site staff from Children’s Mental Health Services of Hastings and Prince Edward.

Physical and Health Education Canada identifies access to current, quality health resources as a key characteristic in building a healthy school community. Through fostering a healthy relationship and collaborating among community partners, a new program providing a very meaningful contribution to the youth of our community has been developed without the need for additional government funding.
Leona Dombrowsky, Minister of Education and local MPP, officially opened the new Proud Panther Health Clinic Monday morning.
“Primary health services is what people access first and they play a preventative and proactive role,” Dombrowsky told the crowd gathered at the school. “This clinic will enable students to see how they can stay healthy and prevent having to go to hospital, or have surgery.  School age is the best time to learn about health. I’m very proud of this clinic. Folks in the County are very proud of what they have and so they should be. It’s here because people here have worked for it and value it – health services and education services. It’s about passion and people working together to build. It’s a wonderful model for young people and people right across Ontario are looking at it. This clinic is the first one and I expect it’s going to be copied. You have been an example in so many ways.”

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  1. Doris says:

    Great idea to have health clinic open at PECI

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