Good news for school-based health centers

Yesterday the US Department of Health and Human Services announced that awards of $95 million–provided by the Affordable Care Act–would be given to 278 school-base health systems nationwide.  These awards will help clinics expand to provide students with more health care services.  The awards will also allow school-based health centers to serve 440,000 more patients in addition to the 790,000 patients they’re already serving.  It’s the hope of HHS Secretary Sebelius that these awards will help school-based health centers to establish new sites and/or upgrade their current facilities in order to ensure effective, high-quality care for children.  Click here for a list of July 2011 grantees.

School-based health centers can improve the health and wellness of children through health screenings and disease prevention activities.  They also help enable children with acute illnesses (such as the flu) or chronic illnesses (like diabetes and asthma) to attend school and make it easier for working parents to get their children the health care they need.  These clinics can provide primary medical care as well as mental/behavioral health care, dental and oral health care, nutrition education, and substance abuse counseling, plus case management and health education and promotion.

Often operated as partnerships between the school and a community health organization (such as a local health department or hospital), school-based health centers also focus on prevention, early intervention, and risk reduction.  There are nearly 2,000 operating across the nation, most of which are open every day school is in session.

The Affordable Care Act has earmarked a total of $200 million for school-based health centers from 2010 through 2013; the funding announced yesterday is just the first wave of awards that will be made available to school-based health centers.

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