School-based health centers have proven to be a critical resource for Nationwide Children’s Hospital and local educators to improve lives of young people and their families, because they provide medical and behavioral health care that children may not receive anywhere else.
“Children don’t learn if they are missing class for health reasons,” says Tim Robinson, CEO of Nationwide Children’s. “And young people who are better learners become healthy, productive adults in our communities. So Nationwide Children’s is bringing health care to the place we know young people will be – at school.”
But what if you’re not a student, and still are not accessing the care you need?
A newly announced school-based health center, in partnership with St. Mary School in the German Village neighborhood of Columbus, will ultimately become a resource for young and old alike, says Robinson. He, along with officials from St. Mary and the Catholic Diocese of Ohio, helped break ground on the new center at a ceremony in October.
Nationwide Children’s now operates 14 school-based health centers, along with two mobile care centers. The hospital plans to have a total of 19 school health centers operational by the end of 2023. Those centers allow Nationwide Children’s to provide primary care, like vaccines, physicals, check-ups, medications and management of chronic conditions, like asthma and diabetes. Clinicians also provide primary care mental health to those who need it.
The centers are not a replacement for a “medical home” or a regular family doctor. Half of Ohio’s children, however, do not have a medical home. School-based centers can fill the gap, and they can become a medical home if that is appropriate for the family.
Because they largely exist inside schools, the centers are focused on student health. The vision of the St. Mary center, though, is to ultimately serve a wide spectrum of community members on the South Side of Columbus, Robinson said at the groundbreaking.
Nationwide Children’s neighborhood revitalization effort, Healthy Neighborhoods Healthy Families, is based on the idea that individual health improves when the health of the neighborhood – better housing, educational opportunity, access to health care – improves. The vision of the St. Mary school-based health center is that will provide better access to care not only for students, but for others in the neighborhood as well.
The center is part of a larger expansion of St. Mary, with new classroom space and an adult learning program. Nationwide Children’s is proud to play a role in the entire project to benefit the community.
“What is happening at St. Mary will improve lives throughout this whole area,” Robinson said.
“Children don’t learn if they are missing class for health reasons. And young people who are better learners become healthy, productive adults in our communities. So Nationwide Children’s is bringing health care to the place we know young people will be – at school.””