SETH — The Sherman Wellness Center boasts more services and is available to more patients than many in the community may think.
Since 1994, the SWC has operated under the umbrella of the Raleigh-Boone Medical Center in Whitesville. The scope of services includes preventative screenings, bloodwork and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses.
While the center provides services to students and families of those students, it also provides services to the community at large.
The SWC has two locations, one at Sherman High School and one at Sherman Elementary School.
Nurse Practitioner Marylea Seacrist has worked to help educate the community on available services since coming on board in August. She has deep connections to the community as a 2004 graduate of Sherman High School.
Seacrist wants to clear up some of the community members’ misconceptions about the center.
“We are actually a walk-in clinic, and while we are in the school, we are actually not affiliated with the school and are a separate facility ran from Hygeia,” she said. “Most people here are familiar with Hygeia through Raleigh-Boone Medical Center. I think that because I was previously a school nurse, there may be some confusion there.”
The facility can treat patients and prescribe medications and perform laboratory work for patients and have it sent to their primary care physician and perhaps save them a trip to Charleston in the process.
“If you have your lab order and don’t want to go back to Charleston to have your labs done, we can take care of you right here in your community,” she said.
They can see nearly all patients, except those with Medicare, Seacrist said.
According to management, the inability to accept Medicare is due to the facility being school-based. They do see a high volume of Medicaid patients.
“We can do wellness checks for students, and they are required by some insurance companies, and we fill them out, get them on file and report them to your insurance company,” Seacrist said. “We perform sports physicals and with basketball season starting, this is a time when we’ll do a lot of those.”
A consent form must be filled out for a student to be seen by the center; it is kept on file and only has to be done once per school year.
“We can potentially save someone from taking a day off of work and pulling the student out of school for an appointment as we can deal with it right here,” she said. “This way, they won’t miss a day of school and we can identify if it is a cold or simply an allergy-related flare-up.”
Seacrist is at the location at the high school Monday through Thursday in the morning and at the elementary school in the afternoons. At the high school, there is a check-in process at the office. At the elementary school, there is an independent entrance at the rear of the facility, separate from the school.
“Many of our patients who aren’t in the school system prefer coming to the Sherman Elementary location because it is more convenient and there is a separate entrance,” Seacrist said.
Wait times to be seen in either office average just a few minutes, according to Seacrist.
“Something that I’d like to make clear is that with a consent on file, I can see the student and the school and prescribe medications if needed,” Seacrist said. “When I prescribe a medication, I talk to the parent. I want to start doing more screenings on our students and I am big on promoting health and wellness through the schools.”
The Sherman Wellness Centers are overseen by Dr. Ira Morris, who practices at both the Wharton Medical Center and Raleigh-Boone Medical Center.
Morris’ long and impressive resume began with an internship at Rhode Island Hospital, followed by two years of research before spending 16 years at Johns Hopkins Department of Medicine. He moved to New York in 1986 and spent nine years working with HIV patients and the homeless population.
Morris served as the chairman of the Department of Community Medicine at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson, New Jersey, before family connections brought him to West Virginia in 1995.
Seacrist said she is excited about practicing in a community close to her hometown of Rumble.
“I moved away for a while and was a part-time teacher and I went on to nursing school a little later in life,” she said. “In 2018 I finished my nurse practitioner degree. There is a need for primary care here and health and wellness promotion with our younger population in particular. I’m very excited to be here serving a community that I grew up in. It is very rewarding to me.”
Contact the Sherman Wellness Center at Sherman Elementary School at 304-837-3100 or at Sherman High School at 304-837-3399. Hours at the high school are 8-12:15 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 1-4 p.m. on Friday.
At the elementary school, the hours are 1-4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m.-12:15 p.m. on Friday.
Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at email@example.com or at 304-307-2401.