27 Jan Simplifying and improving processes for international students [Client Success Story]
- Name: Debra Bond
- Job Title: Student Health Center Director
- School: The Cheshire Academy
- Location: Cheshire, CT
- Type: Grade 8 – PG, Coed College Preparatory Boarding & Day School
- Size: 400 students (163 international, 260 boarders)
- Website: cheshireacademy.org
Debra Bond, MSN, PPCNP-BC, APRN has been the Director of the Cheshire Academy Richmond Center since 2004 and the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at the Academy since 2001. As the Director and Nurse Practitioner, she assesses, diagnoses and manages minor episodic illnesses and injuries and helps manage and coordinate care for students with chronic illnesses, with emphasis in health promotion and disease prevention. She works with a team of health professionals and faculty to provide primary and episodic healthcare for 400 domestic and international boarding and day students, including those with a variety of chronic illnesses. This team helps students attain and maintain their optimal level of health and wellness, by addressing their physical, emotional and social health needs.
The Cheshire Academy has a unique population with more boarders than day students, and international students makeup over 40% of the total student population. With a unique mix of students, Debra Bond, the Student Health Center Director, and her staff have a unique mix of challenges when it comes to obtaining health information before the start of school.
The biggest challenge they faced prior to Magnus was getting the information from the international population because of mail deliverability and language barriers. Even when they moved from traditional mail to email, there were still issues. “Half the time, the email addresses weren’t current, and parents of the international students didn’t return information because they didn’t read English, so even if they actually received our requests for information, a lot of the parents ignored them,” Bond explained.
The problem magnified when international students arrived to campus to begin school with forms in hand. “It was a very inefficient process, and the students would always be missing things because parents didn’t understand that immunization laws are different here than in their home country,” Bond said.
When The Cheshire Academy began using Magnus, it was with the intention of reducing the burden of the registration process. “At registration, we should really only be seeing the students who have health issues and should be dropping off medication,” Bond explained, “It shouldn’t be a drop off for forms that should have been submitted months ago.”
Since moving to Magnus, not only has the registration process improved, but other procedures have changed for The Cheshire Academy as well. “Magnus really improved the registration process, both for domestic and international students. It totally prevents students and parents from coming in to drop off a bunch of forms that first day because they’re getting emails twice a week in the months leading up, saying they haven’t done what needs to be done,” Bond said.
The beauty of the emails is that they’re now going to the international students’ consultants, who can translate English, so the parents are notified of what needs to be done, what immunizations need to be documented, and what other information is needed. In the past, it wasn’t that parents didn’t want to follow protocol, they just didn’t understand exactly what that was. Now, the responsibility is put back on the parent because Cheshire has done everything they can to encourage and empower parents to do what is required. Getting lost in the mail, or never receiving the email, are no longer valid excuses.
Prior to Magnus, when the international students arrived to The Cheshire Academy without their proof of immunization, the nursing staff was forced to administer immunizations on site. Given that some immunizations require doses over a series of months, this meant that students weren’t fully immunized at the start of school, and the nursing staff was administering a large number of immunizations. “One year, we had to do about 150 immunizations for international students,” Bond noted, adding that now, “constant email communication allows parents to get as many immunizations for the child as possible before they arrive here.”
The exceptions are those students who do not have access to specific immunizations, like Tdap, in their home country. For those students, Bond and her team must still provide the immunization. However, whereas in the past, those students arrived at school needing four or five different shots, now they need just one or two.
Another vast improvement is the number of tuberculosis screenings The Cheshire Academy has had to administer. Because many of the international students come from high risk areas, it’s absolutely essential that students be screened. In the past, many of the students didn’t have that done in their home country, either because it wasn’t available, or because their parent wasn’t paying attention to email communication, so Bond and her team were having to screen many students. Now, that has all changed. “Screenings have gone down drastically. We used to do 30 or 40 a year, and this year it was down to about five,” Bond said.
The final piece to improving the process for handling international student health information was finding a way to manage the international insurance. As Bond put it, “the international insurance piece was always a nightmare, which Magnus has helped greatly with.” The Cheshire Academy requires international students to purchase school insurance, which Bond can now note in the student’s Vital Health Record as soon as the student is enrolled, thanks to edit VHR functionality.
“What Magnus allows me to do, is as soon as I know a new international student is enrolled, I go into Magnus and upload a note saying the student is automatically enrolled into our health insurance, and when the card is mailed to us, we just upload it. And I can go into the VHR and check off the box for international insurance. We had some parents going in and uploading their home country insurance and bypassing the system, and it just wasn’t correct, and Magnus has really helped with that,” Bond explained.
In this case, Bond found a way to make the international insurance and edit VHR functions work for her specific needs, and now she can proactively go in as soon as a new student is enrolled and complete that task. Because the international insurance cards arrive all at once, Bond and her team simply upload the cards at one time. “It’s a real organized way for us to keep track so nobody is falling through the cracks, which has been a real help,” Bond said.
Keeping track of information and preventing students and tasks from falling through the cracks are key to the success of any health center, and Bond and her team have made Magnus SMR work for them to ensure success. Improving processes for international students wasn’t even their goal when they began using Magnus, but it’s certainly proven to be a positive consequence of that decision.
Want to know what other Cheshire Academy employees think of Magnus? Jen Tirillo, Head Athletic Trainer, sheds light on how other departments use Magnus as well.
Immunizations are a big part of our 7 Essential Components of a Student Medical Record Tool Kit. Download it now and learn about the other six, and how you can ensure you’re collecting everything you and your students need!
Want more Magnus success stories? Read how our other clients have made Magnus work for them, or share with us your own successes in the comments below!