It’s more obvious than ever that schools are more than simply places to learn: they are essential safe spaces for children to form friendships, eat nutritional meals, and communicate with reliable people. This is especially true after more than two years of disrupted lessons due to the pandemic. Additionally, schools may offer healthcare services.
Around 3,000 school-based health centres provide primary and preventive care for students who reside in medically disadvantaged communities in more than 30 states across the United States. Flu, asthma, diabetes, and other common illnesses are treated by the clinics’ staff members. They provide immunizations, conduct dental, eye, and hearing screenings, and some even offer reproductive and mental health services. These clinics, which are frequently collaborations between school districts and neighbourhood hospitals and community health organisations, provide care to kids who are most in need of it and who are most at danger of falling behind in their academics as a result of unmet medical requirements.
It’s time for government at all levels to acknowledge that all children deserve accessible and inexpensive health care. The pandemic was harsh on the already-existing school-based health clinics, and as we deal with missed years of education, it’s important to acknowledge this. More money should go to school-based clinics, existing clinics should be able to operate without budgetary concerns, and more community partners should financially and physically contribute to efforts to provide health care to children who lack it as lawmakers create budgets, reallocate funds, and start a new school year.
“Healthy kids learn better”, a nonprofit that promotes health centers in schools. More than 20 million children in the U.S. lack sufficient access to health care, and the most direct way to address that need is to bring doctors to them. “Many of their parents are unable to get away from work to take them to appointments,” Boyd says. “And even if they are able to get away from work, often the kids miss a whole day of school. By having the health center right there in the school facility, they can do what they need to do and get back to class.” And schools are often among the most trusted institutions within communities, making it easier to reach students who are anxious about visiting doctors’ offices or whose parents mistrust outside providers.
Robert Boyd, president and CEO of the School-Based Heath Alliance (SBHA)
It has been demonstrated that providing health services through schools enhances both children’s physical health and academic performance. According to a 2005 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, after health centres opened in U.S. public schools, the likelihood that their students would require hospitalisation for asthma decreased by 2.4 times and the number of times they visited the ER for asthma decreased by 33.5 percent. According to other research, school-based clinics can enhance students’ usage of contraceptives, lower mental health issues, and increase immunisation rates among students. Kids who use these centres perform better academically, have better attendance, are more likely to advance to the next grade, are less likely to be suspended, and are generally better prepared for college. Based on all of this evidence, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention task force recently recommended school-based health centers as a key strategy to advance health equity—that is, to reduce the access disparities that exist between wealthier, privileged populations and everyone else.
However, the majority of school communities that could use such clinics lack such. Congress allocated $5 million in 2021 to help fund additional and new services at school-based health clinics. 25 facilities were financed by that money, however the programme received more than 300 submissions. Additionally, less than half of the US states now support school health programmes. The clinics can bill insurance and Medicaid for students who have coverage, but they also need consistent money to meet operating costs, such as recruiting qualified personnel.
During the epidemic, many established centres had to temporarily or permanently close, and they had trouble keeping employees and funding. One encouraging development is that more than 60% of the centres that participated in the SBHA survey started providing telehealth services between 2020 and 2021, expanding their clientele. Additionally, many were able to provide individuals without access to the potentially life-saving doses with COVID vaccines. It has always made sense and is now more important than ever to provide children with the care they require where they need it. The time is now for all underserved students to have access to school-based health centres.