DepEd: 18 schools here to have top-notch medical, dental clinics

Before the end of this month, 12 central elementary schools in the province will have fully-operational medical and dental clinics, the Department of Education (DepEd) Schools Division of Catanduanes disclosed last week.
The “state-of-the art” clinics will be launched simultaneously this Sept. 25, 2021 at Caramoran Central Elementary School during the culmination of the division’s One Health Week that begins on Sept. 22.
The celebration also includes the facilitation of DepEd’s flagship programs such as the School-Based Feeding Program, WASH in Schools, Gulayan sa Paaralan, School In A Garden, Gabaldon School Buildings, and Sports Facilities.
Anjo Tugay, Division Information Officer-designate, said the schools where the already functional clinics will be launched are Bato Central, Baras Central, Agban Central, Gigmoto Central, Viga Central, Panganiban Central, Bagamanoc Central, Bugao Central, Caramoran Central, Datag Central, Pandan Central and Tabugoc Central.
The inauguration of similar clinics in six other central schools in Virac, Cabcab in San Andres, San Miguel, Mabato also in San Miguel, and Tambongon in Viga will have to wait a little longer as the buildings housing them were unroofed by super typhoon Rolly and will undergo rehabilitation.
The medical and dental equipment and supplies in these typhoon-damaged schools have been housed either in the principal’s office or in rooms where they can be safely stored.
Unfortunately, two other central schools – Virac Pilot Elementary School and Cabugao Integrated School – were left out of the recipient list allegedly due to the fact that their school names did not carry the “central tag.
Tugay bared that DepEd central office has already delivered medical and dental equipment as well as dental supplies to the central schools with only the dental chairs yet to arrive.
Each of the clinics have complete medical and dental equipment, including an oxygen nebulizer, stretcher, wheelchair, examining bed, dental chair, and autoclave machine for sterilization just like in private clinics, Dr. Amylou Celso told the Tribune in a separate interview.
The delayed delivery of the dental chairs prevented the Catanduanes division from joining the Sept. 6 launching by DepEd Bicol regional office of 169 clinics for its learners, teachers and personnel.
“Timely for the opening of classes, the clinics shall provide access for health services among learners and DepEd personnel who need preventive and curative services, including immediate dental and medical emergency care in schools,” DepEd Bicol Director Gilbert Sadsad said in a press release.
To render medical and dental services, DepEd Bicol has a total of 13 medical officers or one officer per division and one regional medical officer, 55 dentists and about 300 nurses.
This team will man the clinics appropriated per division: Albay – 18, Camarines Norte – 4; Camarines Sur – 34; Catanduanes – 18; Masbate – 59; Sorsogon – 20; Iriga City – 2; Legazpi City – 4; Masbate City – 3; Naga City – 5 and Sorsogon City – 2.
Sadsad said each recipient school was provided with medical and dental supplies and materials amounting to P200,000.00, along with funds for program implementation that may include capacity building for the recipient schools.
“The recipient schools shall ensure to allocate funds for the maintenance and continuous operation of the clinics which will also cater to nearby schools,” Sadsad said.
Out of the 169 clinics, 149 are ready before the opening of classes while the rest are set to open within his year.
These clinics are supposed to be manned by a medical officer, dentist, and nurse, and an alternate trained clinic teacher who will supervise the clinic in their absence. It will also cater to students in nearby schools, both elementary and high school.
In an effort to ensure the maintenance of good oral health among students and personnel, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones issued DepEd Order No. 041 or the Guidelines on the Implementation of School Dental Health Care Program (SDHCP) – including Medical and Nursing Services for School Year 2020-2021.
Citing recent reports on “Oplan Kalusugan sa DepEd” for SY 2018-2019, DepEd noted that the “most common ailment in oral health” among students and personnel were dental caries and gingivitis.
To help address these problems, it said that the SDHCP will provide students in public schools and personnel the following: health care supplies, which include toothpaste, toothbrush, and soap to all Kinder to Grade 6 learners; application of fluoride varnish to all Kinder to Grade 3, prioritizing all Kinder entrants, if applicable; provision of Tele-consultation, oral examination, simple dental treatment, and referrals to learners and personnel; and establishment of clinics and provision of medical and dental supplies in identified offices and Central Elementary Schools.
“All activities in the policy that require the physical presence of learners in school premises are subject to the conditions of partial or full-scale face-to-face classes, should it be approved by the Office of the President,” DepEd said.
The department received a total funding of P4.2 billion in 2019-2020 for the establishment of functional medical-dental clinics in selected schools, provision of basic, preventive and curative health services to learners in all public elementary schools, including oral examination and services, medical and dental supplies, and hygiene kits for the mandatory conduct of daily group handwashing and tooth brushing activities.
DepEd is also asking Congress a budget of P2.5 billion this 2022 to sustain and expand the program.
DepEd health unit lacks manpower
Due to lack of manpower, the DepEd Catanduanes health unit has prepared a deployment plan whereby the medical officer, Dr. Kristine Santelices, will be accompanied by either one of the division’s two dentists, Dr. Amylou Celso and Dr. Hidelita Posada, and one of the eight nurses to make the rounds of the 18 clinics in the central schools.
The nurses already have an assigned school clinic where they will be deployed, Dr. Celso told the Tribune in an interview.
Thus, they are not allowed to go outside their school except in a few instances where they are ordered by the SDO to join the activities of the division’s health unit, she added.
The division has two other dentists but they are permanently based at the Catanduanes National High School in Virac and the Viga Rural Development High School.
She said that the school can invite personnel from the Rural Health Unit concerned, especially the dentist and nurses, as long as the division office is informed.

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