PRINCETON, Minn. (FOX 9) - In small towns, it seems like everybody knows everybody and that's certainly true for Dr. Jeremy Peterson.
"The people that I take care of here are people I am going to see outside of here," said Peterson.
He's not only a fixture in the halls of M Health Fairview's Princeton clinic, but he is also a staple in the hallways of Princeton schools as well. He has three children in the district and, over the years, he's been the volunteer high school football physician, a basketball coach and now, the very first chief medical advisor for Princeton Public Schools.
"We can take care of a lot of things here in the clinic, but sometimes, the best way to take care of health issues is to take care of them before they ever happen," said Peterson.
The volunteer position is the first known of its kind in the state and was born out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It was intense...and it was a lot of us trying to make sure we were doing right by the kids," said Peterson.
Superintendent Ben Barton says Peterson had been consulting with district officials before, but they relied heavily on his advice and expertise throughout the pandemic, especially when it came to interpreting health guidance from the state.
"I felt like I knew what I was doing as a superintendent, but I certainly didn't during those times, and I needed to really rely on lots of health professionals to help us make good decisions," said Barton.
Peterson's role as chief medical advisor became official this school year.
"It's nice to have that extra layer of guidance for myself as a superintendent and also our RNs," said Barton.
Peterson will now provide staff training, make emergency health plans, and lend his expertise when creating school health policies, like school bus times and what works best for students of different ages.
All of this work comes with the ultimate goal of promoting the health and well-being of the community.
"If you can keep from needing to come in and see us in the first place, that just helps with everybody," said Peterson.