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School-Based Health Centers, not your average nurses office

HHS tags $75 million for school-based health centers

Image: Seattle School Based Heath
Funding for the school-based health centers capital (SBHCC) program is contained within the Affordable Care Act with an earmarked total of $200 million.  SBHCC will receive $75 million spread out over an estimated 150 grants in 2013. The purpose of SBHCC grants is to help create jobs and improve child health by either implementing a school-based health center or improving an existing school health center. Like retail health clinics and walk-in care/urgent care centers, school-based healthcare centers are (or can be) part of the public health safety net. Children and adolescents will have improved access to healthcare resources while attending school. Kids with special or chronic care needs will also benefit from increased access to care.

According to the Health Resources and Services (HRSA) website:
School-Based Health Center, in general, means a health clinic that
  • is located in or near a school facility of a school district or board or of an Indian tribe or tribal organization;
  • is organized through school, community, and health provider relationships;
  • is administered by a sponsoring facility;
  • provides through health professionals primary health services to children in accordance with State and local law, including laws relating to licensure and certification; and
  • satisfies such other requirements as a State may establish for the operation of such a clinic.
These clinics will provide care and improve overall health and wellness through health screening, promotion and disease prevention.

Opinion
The "off label" benefit to a community will be increased disease surveillance and additional healthcare resources. These clinics will almost certainly meet the routine health needs of children and adolescents who may otherwise end up in an emergency department. In times of crisis, such as severe flu/pandemic, or other emergency, the school-based clinics could play an important auxiliary role (much like retail healthcare) in the distribution of pharmaceuticals and screening exams.

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