CHELSEA (CBS) — As a student at Chelsea High School, Christina Fernandez dealt with a lot of anxiety. But instead of having to leave school or make an appointment with her doctor, she would go see Jordan Hampton in the nurse’s office.
“I would feel my panic attacks coming in so I’d come down here,” says Christina. “And I’d like sit down and be like, ‘Jordan, can I just stay here for a few minutes?’ And she’d be like, ‘Yeah.”
School nurses see a steady stream of bellyaches, bumps, and bruises, but Jordan is no ordinary school nurse. Trained as a pediatric nurse practitioner, Jordan does so much more.
“I can do physical exams,” explains Jordan. “I can make a diagnosis. I can write a prescription. I can do lab tests.”
Kids miss less school, and parents miss less work. In addition, as a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) employee, Jordan always keeps pediatricians in the loop and helps coordinate care with social workers and therapists.
“As you know, adolescents have a lot of things going on in their lives that aren’t easily solved or quickly cured,” says Jordan. “Whether it’s relationship issues or academic issues or family issues or questions about their bodies or reproductive health issues, substance use, and a lot of trauma.”
Edison Urbina, a junior at Chelsea High School, suffered from depression and was getting failing grades, but since seeing Jordan and the social workers, he is back on course.
“I’ve been letting out all this negativity of my life,” says Edison. “I’ve been doing better at school.”
Marilyn Palacios, a senior, suffers from migraines and says Jordan has always been there for her.
“She’s so patient with us and like we feel like she really cares about us,” explain Marilyn.
Kate Vigil is the Lead Social Worker at Chelsea High School and works closely with Jordan. She says having a health center literally inside the building improves compliance with appointments and medications and eliminates the stigma of seeking care.
“I think that it normalizes treatment,” Kate explains. “It makes kids feel like getting help for issues is what you should do, and I think that’s something they can carry for the rest of their lives.”
The school-based health center at Chelsea High School is one of dozens in Massachusetts but far fewer than there were a decade ago due to funding cuts. The hope is to expand the program to more communities in the future.
MGH has two school-based health centers–one at Chelsea High and another at Revere High School.