School-Based Health Centers
To put it simply, School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs) are clinics on the school campus. SBHCs are staffed with medical and mental health professionals who are focused on student health and are wise enough to see that reaching students means being where they are. School-age children and adolescents need access to high quality, culturally competent, comprehensive health care. The school setting is a sensible and appropriate place to deliver health care because that is where students spend so much of their time. We also know that providing care in school means that we can link up with educators to provide more preventative and risk-management services to the general student population.
SBHCs are often described as a win-win because they increase access for students, they support and enhance the education environment, and they allow parents to be involved despite obstacles that previously prevented care.
SBHCs reduce health inequities and improve health outcomes for underserved youth. Many young people in Arkansas who face difficult circumstances have received care in a SBHC because the typical barriers to care are removed in this setting. Parents do not have to take time off work and travel costs and obstacles are eliminated. Students are able to spend less time in waiting rooms and more time in the classroom. Care is provided in a way that prioritizes student need above provider convenience and the results are very positive.
What does this look like in action?
At the Paris SBHC things move a little slower. The staff at the SBHC decided to be intentional about yearly appointments and give students a thorough exam. As a SBHC they have the ability to provide sports physicals throughout the school year and spend more time with each athlete by conducting a full well-child visit. The Paris SBHC detected 3 heart murmurs one year and facilitated referrals for further testing.
A sports physical is more than getting a note signed to play ball, it’s an opportunity to provide quality healthcare to students every year.