Expanding School-Based Health Centers
By Mary Wakefield, Administrator Health Resources and Services Administration
Children spend a large part of their day in school, so school-based health centers are a perfect place to provide vital health care services that will keep them healthy and ready to learn. Every day, thousands of children with acute or chronic illnesses are able to attend school because the care they need is available on-site. Nearly, 2000 of these clinics are in communities all over the country. Many are open every school day and staffed by a team of health providers who work closely with school health officials and other local service providers.
Earlier today, I announced more than $14 million to help 45 school-based health center programs continue to expand preventive and primary health care services by building new facilities and modernizing current sites. These 45 clinics are already providing much-needed health care services to around 112,000 children. This new infusion of funds will allow them to treat some 53,000 more children across 29 states.
Services at these clinics generally focus on prevention and early intervention activities, such as primary care, mental health, oral health, and nutrition education. Decisions about what services to offer are made locally among the families and students, the community, the school district, and the health providers.
For example, the King Middle School in Portland, Maine is currently using a remodeled custodial closet as its school-based health center. With new resources, the center will have two clinical rooms and one of the clinical rooms-- the dental room-- will double as the mental health room. With this grant award, they will be able to serve approximately 1,350 students in a newly renovated space that will more the double its current size.
The Jonesville Elementary School in Jonesville, LA will use its funds to construct a modular unit that will consist of two medical exam rooms, a clinical reception area, administrative offices, and a conference area. Also included will be two dental offices. The modular unit will incorporate green sustainable design considerations, including many energy efficient components. When it’s done, more than 3,500 students will have access to quality health care while they are in school.
These were just the kinds of activities that the Affordable Care Act intended to support with the $200 million in funding it provides over four years for construction, renovation and equipment needs at school-based clinics.
Today’s investment builds on the $95 million announced in July by HHS Secretary Sebelius and Education Secretary Duncan to 278 school-based health center programs to create new sites and to expand preventive and primary health care services at existing school-based health center sites nationwide.
We are proud to support school-based health centers because they are such an important part of the Nation’s health care safety net. With these clinics, we can expand preventive and primary care and help our children grow healthy and strong.
To learn more about the program, visit www.bphc.hrsa.gov.