Thursday, October 07, 2004


The disturbing merger between public schools and health care was set back a little bit this week. Omaha’s Westside Community Schools canceled its subsidized $20 flu shots for students, staff and families in the wake of the vaccine shortage caused by a British company’s manufacturing problems.

As Go Big Ed reported Sept. 17, Westside and Children’s Hospital were collaborating on the program, seen as another foot in the door for the morphing of schools into all-around social-service centers. The plan is to offer ‘’one-stop shopping’’ at school to replace parents in covering the health, education, welfare and job acquisition needs of children and their families.

Socialism, in other words.

Now Westside is stuck having to return everybody’s money, and it’s a big mess. That’s the thing about mission creep: once you get off course of your basic mission -- in this case, academics -- you generally have trouble.

Financially and medically, the subsidized flu shots didn’t make much sense, other than serving as a loss leader to start indoctrinating parents into thinking of the school as the leader in meeting their child’s health-care needs instead of preserving that job for themselves.

It’s the same thing that has happened with the government-subsidized free or reduced lunch program. Parents have washed their hands of a huge responsibility of parenting -- providing food -- and a huge amount of regard and respect by their children, for pennies a day in government subsidies.

Now public schools are attempting to shift that transfer of power and allegiance into health care, as well. That’s despite enormous difficulties in areas such as teenage sexuality and whether it’s proper for a school clinic to be handing out condoms and making referrals to abortion providers.

From the medical community’s perspective, the clinic format is a vast departure from the usual standard of care, in which the health-care provider has a longstanding professional relationship with the patient and family. This kind of takes the doctor out of the loop, and puts the school superintendent, who negotiates these sorts of contracts, in the driver’s seat.

It’s also a big question mark how the school-based flu shots were going to work out under federal medical privacy regulations. Volunteers were going to be handling a lot of medical-related paperwork that isn’t supposed to veer beyond the health-care provider and the patient. You can find out alllllllll sorts of things that way. Not good.

We’ll take another look soon at the status of school-based health care in Nebraska. There are some big, big bucks involved, and some things going on that are causing concern.

Healthy children is everybody’s goal, of course. But what’s happening in this area, or could happen in the near future, is enough to make you . . . sick.

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