Flu cases increasing in schools

Dr. Erica Harding, left, and Bianca Green, nurse practitioner, of the Clarkston Medical Group. Photo provided

Clarkston News Staff Writer

Clarkston Community Schools has seen an increase in the number of students who have had influenza symptoms over the last several weeks.
“Influenza symptoms and fevers can last up to one week, and therefore, depending on symptom severity, some students may be out of school for up to one week and possibly longer if secondary complications develop,” said Bianca Green, CCS on-campus health center nurse practitioner. “Students should remain out of school until they are fever-free for 24 hours.”
The district has two health centers open to students and their families. Health center hours at Sashabaw Middle School are Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7:30-11:30 a.m., and Fridays, 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; and at North Sashabaw Elementary, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:304 p.m.
“Many people think the flu is associated with stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. However, the respiratory flu usually causes coughing, high fevers, headaches, body aches, and fatigue,” Green said. “The respiratory flu can be more severe in those with underlying medical conditions – about one-half of pediatric flu deaths occur in previously healthy children.”
Steps to protect yourself during flu season include immunize yourself and your family with the influenza vaccine; cover your cough; wash hands frequently; disinfect surfaces frequently touched; and stay home with high fevers or any flu-like symptoms.
“CMG does not track immunizations for the district – that’s done by the schools,” added Clarkston Medical Group Medical Director Erica Harding, MD. “We only access the MCIR (Michigan Care Improvement Registry) for scheduled appointments, and if any deficiencies, we notify parents and offer vaccination if needed.”
The partnership between CCS and CMG is unique and they hope will be a long and successful one, Harding said.
“The majority of school health centers are run by hospitals, the local health department or in some cases federally-qualified health centers,” she explained. “Clarkston Medical has been a long-established practice in this community, and we feel the connection best serves our schools. Parents know who we are already or can ask friends and family. I’m a parent of a child at North Sashabaw, so as the director, it’s really important to me we provide quality, affordable, accessible care from a trusted source.”
They will work with any insurance type or uninsured children, she said.
“We will work closely with families to make sure care is affordable,” she said. “So far, the health center is picking up speed, but we still have quite a bit of availability. I think not all parents are aware this service is open for the whole district or what exactly we do.”
It’s a bit of a new concept, so it’s going to take some time, Harding added.
“We will be available in the afternoons on half days and have summer hours as well so we can get those back-to-school physicals in,” she said. “If the center gets busier, we will discuss expansion with the district as well, perhaps adding a site.”

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