Students always seem to have sprains, headaches and other ailments that need attention. But Toledo Public Schools also wants to ensure students’ mental health needs – which could be at the root of absenteeism, behavioral problems and other issues – are treated, too.
Through a partnership with Health Partners of Western Ohio, school-based health centers are opening at Scott High School and Rogers High School. The centers will be staffed every school day by both a nurse practitioner and a licensed independent social worker to help students with their physical and mental health, including making referrals.
Having such clinics opened during class times will be a large benefit for students’ overall health, said Ann Cipriani, MEd, BA, RN, LSN, NCSN, Coordinator of Health Services for Toledo Public Schools.
“Students will have consistent health care versus going to the hospital’s emergency department,” Ann said.
Community Health Improvement
Expanding school-based health centers is one of the cross-cutting strategies in Healthy Lucas County’s 2018-2021 Lucas County Community Health Improvement Plan, which works to improve the health status of Lucas County residents and decrease premature death. All the cross-cutting strategies address the health improvement plan’s priorities: mental health, addiction/drug & opiate use, maternal & child health/infant mortality, and chronic disease/obesity.
By expanding school-based health centers, Healthy Lucas County hopes to reduce adult and youth obesity, increase high school graduation rates, increase child preventive care visits to a doctor, and define and address health disparities. With obesity, for example, 15% of Lucas County high school students are obese, according to the 2016/2017 Lucas County Community Health Assessment.
School-Based Health Centers
Toledo Public Schools has had school-based health centers before, but they could not remain financially viable, Ann said. Health Partners of Western Ohio is a federally qualified health center and can be reimbursed by Medicaid for care, she said. School staff also can be treated at the centers.
“Their ability to sustain is greater,” Ann said. “This one is the most promising model yet, and I’m super excited about it.”
Additionally, Toledo Public Schools has a long-standing partnership with Neighborhood Health Association’s Cordelia Martin Health Center. Students at the nearby Jones Leadership Academy of Business can go to Cordelia Martin for health services.