Nationwide Children’s to Support School Health Planning Across 32 Appalachian Counties

A group of five elementary aged kids are standing against a brick wall. They are outdoors. One is holding a soccer ball.

Gov. Mike DeWine’s $500 million grant program to create transformational change in Ohio’s 32 Appalachian counties has the potential for broad impact – but only if communities can create comprehensive plans and successful applications for the grants.

To help them, the Ohio Department of Development announced 20 organizations in February that will provide support to communities during the planning process. Only one is a nonprofit health care institution: Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

“Nationwide Children’s has developed the largest school-based health program of its kind in the United States, and the State of Ohio has bolstered school-based health care as a way that health can be improved in Appalachian communities,” said Theresa Hatton, who manages strategic initiatives for Nationwide Children’s school-based health program. “We now have the opportunity to help communities throughout the region build those capabilities.”

School-based health is built on the idea that more children will get the health care they need if the care is brought to them where they are – at school. Nationwide Children’s has helped open 15 school-based health clinics that provide primary and behavioral health care services in central Ohio, and it supports the creation of school-based health services throughout Ohio.

Nationwide Children’s has an existing infrastructure for both building school-based health clinics and for supporting school districts and other organizations as they build their own. It makes sense that the State of Ohio and Nationwide Children’s would partner in helping bring the clinics to regions where they can make a real difference, said Hatton.

Gov. DeWine announced the $500 million “OhioBuilds – Small Communities, Big Impact – A Plan for Appalachia” in June 2022. It specifically prioritizes three areas to help transform and revitalize Ohio’s Appalachian counties:

  • Infrastructure, including downtown development
  • Health care, such as investments in school- or community-based services to address physical and behavioral health
  • Workforce development, including public-private partnerships to build and coordinate job training

Nationwide Children’s joins 19 other organizations that the State of Ohio has announced as supporting planners, many of whom are consultants, designers and architects.