Introducing Dr. Natalie Mathurin, Our New Medical Director of Student Support Services

Posted on March 4, 2018
Categories: Family News & Resources

For the first time ever, the School District of Philadelphia has a Medical Director who will support our students’ health! Focus on FACE interviewed Dr. Natalie Mathurin about her new position and how she plans to promote health and wellness in our schools.

Universal Medical Symbol with blue background

Focus on FACE: Tell us about your new position as Medical Director in the District. What are some of the key responsibilities of this role?

Dr. Mathurin: As Medical Director, I am responsible for directing all medical care provided for the students of the School District. In this role I develop and coordinate nurse-led protocols; provide clinical consultation for occupational and physical therapy for children with special needs; provide medical expertise to schools, parents, and district administration on pediatric health promotion and disease prevention; and support the district administration in maintaining compliance with all local, state, and federal regulations.

Focus on FACE: What will your main goals/focus areas be for the first few months as Medical Director? What are your priorities?

Dr. Mathurin: I have been in this position for 4 months now and my primary focus continues to be organizing the team for student health services. We now have three school health coordinators, Shannon Smith, Lauren Reagan and Bashira Charles, who work as nursing supervisors to the school nurses. This is exciting for me and brings me a great deal of satisfaction for me—supporting our school nurses.

I am a great proponent of school health. I believe in it. I believe it works to the absolute benefit of our children and families. However, it will not work if our nursing team is not supported and heard. So to have nursing supervisors that are each responsible for a third of the schools goes a long way in making sure we are doing all that we can to make the health rooms run as effectively as they can.

Focus on FACE: What brought you to the District?

Dr. Mathurin: My husband and I decided to move to Philadelphia from New York City because we wanted a change of pace and a different environment for our son. I was already working in school health in New York as a supervising physician and I truly wanted to maintain my connection to school health here. Thankfully, I came inquiring to the District at a time that decisions were being made to more fully develop a student health services unit. It was a perfect match of timing and I feel very honored to be given the opportunity to lead student health services for the Philadelphia School District.

Focus on FACE: What do you see as the strengths of the District’s health services/health landscape right now?

Dr. Mathurin: One of the strengths that I recognized right away was the District’s ability to form partnerships to benefit student health. Partnerships like the one with the Eagles Foundation for vision care are excellent examples of school districts bridging the gap with external community organizations and non-profits in order to increase access for students and families that may have limited health care resources.

A key part of my role and the development of the infrastructure in student health services is to strengthen and finesse those partnerships so that we continue to enhance health care resource availability for the students.

Focus on FACE: What are a few simple things that parents/families can do to keep their kids healthy during this flu season?

Dr. Mathurin: Parents should teach their children the importance of hand washing and particularly for younger children, not sharing eating utensils or drinks with others. This can be a very hard thing for our little ones because they are touchy-feely by nature and are taught that sharing is nice—which it is!  However, we can also teach them that some things are not good to share, like germs, because we do not want to make others get sick.

And the flu vaccine is very important. While it is true that the effectiveness of the vaccine can vary from year to year, persons who have received the vaccine typically have a milder illness, even if they do come down with the flu.

Focus on FACE: If students do ONE thing to prevent catching the flu, what should that one thing be?

Dr. Mathurin: Wash hands and cover your cough. Those two things immediately came to mind with this question. Viruses and other germs are out there and will circulate. This is an unfortunate reality but our own actions can help to limit the spread of infection.  Using a tissue or the inside of your arm to cover your mouth when coughing can help to protect others around you from also getting sick. And washing your hands when coming in from the outside and prior to eating and drinking can go a long way in helping you stay healthy.