By: Favour Mamudu, Sullivan Junior and Olamide Olaleye Sullivan Junior
Uneasy and stressful. Sullivan High School Heartland Health Clinic employees have been working relentlessly hard to combat the effects of the pandemic for over a year now. The clinic that regularly provides services for students and the Roger’s Park community such as check-ups, lab tests, prescriptions, counseling, and more has had to make many changes in these trying times.
Local healthcare professional Javonte Barber, Heartland Health School Relations Coordinator at Sullivan High School, has been impacted personally and professionally by this pandemic.
Barber felt his life get turned upside down with the pandemic.
“Honestly, it was hard,” Barber said. “I am such a ‘peoples’ person, and to have that snatched away, without having a say so in it was rough!”
Barber typically interacted with staff and students on a daily basis in the building, but ever since the virus hit it has been extremely hard.
“You know sometimes you have to sit down in a sense. I was a person who was always on the go, not putting the time I needed into myself, and COVID basically has taught me to slow down and relax in a way,” Barber reflected on the changes he’s faced since the start of the pandemic.
Before the pandemic, the clinic faced some basic challenges such as tracking students down in the hallway, or calling them down on the intercom, and emailing students to come in for a quick convenient visit in between passing periods.
Remote learning has since invited new challenges. Now clinic staff have to schedule students for in-person visits well ahead of time while ensuring that they don’t miss some of their most important online classes as they make the long commute from home to school for a visit at the clinic.
“One of our main challenges was getting the students to proactively show up for preventive care visits, being mindful of how long we have students out of class,” Barber explained the scheduling procedures as the clinic still needs to take safety precautions into account.
When asked about challenges in contacting students for appointments, Barber further went on to explain, “It was easier back in January 2019, but we have learned so much as an organization and school-based team, that I would say we are doing better than most other School-Based Health Centers are.”
Freshmen who haven’t been to the school before due to the pandemic will find it strange to go to an unfamiliar place.
“If it was hard to get kids down while they were in school, I’m sure you can imagine the pressure to get students to show up to a site that they are unfamiliar with.”
The solution to these issues? The health care workers are creatively adapting by using a new technique to make healthcare easier for everyone, Telehealth. This method makes it possible to go to an appointment without actually being present in the building.
Barber said, “This allows for students to have active access to the clinic even while being in the comfort of their own homes.”
Thanks to their innovative approaches and caring attention to students’ health, the healthcare workers at Sullivan’s Heartland Health Clinic are truly superheroes without capes.