School welcomes pediatric clinic

[attach]4030[/attach]The doctor is in at George Webster Elementary School.

On March 31, the Paul D. Steinhauer Pediatric Clinic opened its doors at the Woodbine Gardens area school.

Parents, local politicians and members of the Toronto District School Board were all in attendance at the opening ceremony.

The clinic, named after school principal Nancy Steinhauer’s late doctor father, will provide health care to approximately 800 children in the community.

The second of its kind for the public school board, it was created as a joint initiative by the board’s Model for Inner Cities Program, the Toronto Foundation for Student Success, and Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services.

A clinic co-coordinator, a nurse practitioner and a doctor will operate the clinic for two half-days a week, offering primary pediatric health care services such as vaccinations, check-ups, flu shots and other services as needed.

The JK to grade 5 school was an ideal location for the clinic as it ranks in the Learning Opportunities Index, which measures external challenges that may be a detriment to a child’s educational success.

A high rate of poverty, low-income, level of parental education and single-parent families are factors that contribute to a school’s ranking on the index.

School trustee Sheila Cary-Meagher said the creation of a clinic in the school makes it more entrenched in the community it serves.

“You have the school, you have the children, then you have parents engaged with the school and the school engaged with the community,” Cary-Meagher said.

Cassie Bell, coordinator of the Inner City Advisory Committee said at the launch the clinic will contribute to the well-being of the children and their families.

“What we understood right away is you can stand on your head and be a wonderful teacher but if a child has an empty stomach, they’re not learning,” Bell said, adding illness like an untreated ear infection or undiscovered vision problem could result in a child not learning to their full capability.

The clinic will also provide prenatal care for parents, many of whom are newcomers to Canada and don’t have easy access to healthcare.

The clinic was partially funded by the Ministry of Education and various sponsors, Bell said, but the program will need the Ministry of Health to step in and fund more clinics, such as this one.

George Webster parent council co-chair Aim Mujib said eventually the clinic hopes to increase the hours or days of operation. That will all depend on receiving increased funding through corporate, non-profit and individual donations.

School principal Nancy Steinhauer and the clinic’s funding committee raised money in honour of her father’s work, which focused on youth healthcare, so it was appropriate to name the clinic after him, she said.

Steinhauer and her father were colleagues when they worked on joint projects that combined the education field with the health field.

“It’s a great honour to work in a school that recognizes interdisciplinary initiatives,” she said days after the clinic’s unveiling.

“It’s a little bit like working with my father again.”

A quote commemorates Dr. Steinhauer’s passion for promoting the physical and mental well-being of children and reflects what the board’s Model Schools for Inner Cities program is trying to achieve: “The raising of competent and resilient children is a collective responsibility — one which, when achieved, benefits society as well as the individual child and family involved.”