HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital will be providing hearing and vision screenings free of charge to the school district’s in Effingham County. Along with the Altamont, Beecher City, Effingham, and Teutopolis school district’s, the service will also be provided to the Fresh Start Treatment and Learning Center, Sacred Heart Grade School and St. Anthony Grade and High Schools, and Altamont Lutheran Grade School.
State law requires hearing and vision screenings annually for all public, private, and parochial schools and licensed childcare facilities at certain grade levels. Vision screenings are required for preschool, kindergarten, second grade, eighth grade, special education, transfer students, and referrals by teachers; hearing screenings are required for preschool, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, special education, transfer students, and referrals by teachers.
In previous years, the hearing and vision screenings for school in Effingham County were provided by the Effingham County Health Department, but due to State budget cuts, the health department no longer has the staffing to provide the screenings. When the need for the screenings became known, St. Anthony’s reached out to all Effingham County Schools, public and parochial, and offered to provide the screenings free of charge for the schools. Beginning with the 2015-16 school year, the hospital will provide all the equipment and staffing for the screening program, and handle all the reporting requirements to the State. Each school will provide a location in each facility for the screenings to be conducted.
HSHS St. Anthony’s President and CEO Theresa Rutherford shared why the hospital felt it was important to support area schools by providing the screenings for their students. “The Mission of St. Anthony’s is to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high quality Franciscan health care ministry,” she said. “When we heard of the difficulty schools were facing with the screenings, we felt offering to provide the screenings aligned well with our Mission and presented another way we could expand the services we provide to the community. We are proud to partner with our area school districts in ensuring we can catch hearing or vision problems early so that they can be corrected as soon as possible and not hinder their learning capacity,” Rutherford shared.
Mark Doan, Superintendent of Effingham Community Unit School District #40, shared his appreciation for the hospital’s generous commitment to area schools. “HSHS St. Anthony’s has been an excellent partner with Unit #40 and all the school districts. We certainly appreciate their support and care for all the children across Effingham County,” he said. “Providing hearing and vision screenings for our youth is a blessing and we truly are appreciative to the hospital for taking this step.”
Altamont Community Unit School District #10 Superintendent Jeff Fritchtnitch’s echoed Doan’s comments and gratitude. “HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital was called to serve and they are doing just that. Daily I am thankful for the support that comes from within Effingham County, and those willing to provide assistance to our county schools and, most importantly, to the students who attend,” he shared. “We thank them for their caring and willingness to go the extra mile.”