STOCKBRIDGE, Mich. — The Ingham County Board of Commissioners is giving Stockbridge Community Schools close to $600,000 in COVID relief money, hoping to ease the effects of the pandemic.
Brian Friddle, the superintendent at Stockbridge Community Schools, made the request.
“Right now, with the effects of COVID, with the contact tracing, with the testing to stay, testing our student-athletes, it is very important that we have the personnel to do that. And right now, we are just overwhelming our staff,” Friddle said.
The $590,000 will pay for a nurse and a social worker over the next two years.
“We are excited about the opportunities it's going to provide for our kids and the relief it will provide for our staff,” Friddle said.
Ingham County Commissioner Todd Tennis said that the nurse and social worker will help “with anything related to COVID 19 testing, mental health issues that students are feeling from having to either be isolated or not be at school as often.”
However, this is only a temporary fix. The Stockbridge Community Schools serve children from 10 different zip codes, an area that the Federal Health Resources and Services Agency designated as medically underserved.
“There is no doctor in our community,” Friddle said. “We don't have a grocery store in town.”
Friddle said that residents in need of a doctor need to drive at least 15 miles to get the care they need.
Tennis added that money, which comes from the approximately $50 million the country received through the American Rescue Plan, can only be spent on COVID-related initiatives, but the hope is that this can be the start of something bigger.
“We hope that they can use that as a springboard to bring other community agencies on board with the ultimate goal of creating additional primary care services in Stockbridge..." he said. "The hope is that this program, this grant can help Stockbridge start to rebuild, rebuild efforts to recreate primary care services there so that Stockbridge residents don't have to travel so far to see a doctor."
Stockbridge is located near the intersection of four counties.
“Livingston County, Washtenaw County, Jackson County, and Ingham, and so it is hard for them because of these artificial political boundaries,” Tennis said.
Friddle is hoping that the city will establish a community health center in the future, which would also provide easier access to vaccines in the area.
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