LYNNWOOD – Community Health Center of Snohomish County will open a new school-based health center (SBHC) at the Edmond’s School District’s Meadowdale High School starting this fall. This will be the first SBHC in Snohomish County.
There are currently more than 65 SBHCs operating in Washington State, with a high concentration in King County supported by local levies. House Bill 1225 concerning SBHCs passed by the state legislature and was signed into law by the Governor on April 16, 2021. This bill creates a state SBHC program office in the Department of Health. Its role will be to provide grant funding, partnership, and technical assistance to SBHCs. We can expect to see more communities start their SBHC planning efforts in the coming months and years thanks to this investment in school-based health care.
The Meadowdale High SBHC is made possible by a partnership between Edmonds School District and Community Health Center of Snohomish County. Verdant Health Commission supports the launch of SBHCs in Edmonds School District and has been working with the partners on their implementation plans. The SBHC will also partner with other community-based service providers currently serving students at Meadowdale High School.
At the core of their scope of service, SBHCs provide age-appropriate primary care services, integrated behavioral/mental health services, and health education to students in school. The Meadowdale High SBHC will offer many of the same services that one can get at a community-based clinic: well child checks and sports physicals; immunizations; chronic condition management; evaluation and treatment of common health problems; health education; age-appropriate reproductive health services; mental health, behavioral health, and social emotional health services; oral health care; and referrals to other health care providers and specialists as needed. SBHC services will be available to all Meadowdale High School students and services will be available during the school day.
Meadowdale High School was selected by Community Health Center (CHC) of Snohomish County and Edmonds School District in part due to their distance from existing community health center access points and the surrounding community’s lower income levels compared to other high schools in the district. An SBHC meets students where they are, in schools.
“This is an exciting opportunity to work with great partners and create another access point for healthcare in Snohomish County,” said Joe Vessey, CHC’s Chief Executive Officer. “CHC has a long history of providing high-quality care in non-traditional settings. Bringing these services to the students, physically locating where they spend their time, aligns with our mission and will benefit our community as a whole.”
Why bring a clinic into a school? Health disparities affect educational achievement. Student health affects attendance, classroom behavior, grades, testing, and graduation. And health risk factors are repeatedly linked to academic failure. Research has shown that SBHC patients demonstrate improvements in key academic achievement areas and health outcomes. SBHCs are also cost-effective. The timely prevention efforts of SBHCs help reduce the need for more costly interventions down the road for students.
“SBHCs create an avenue for students who may not have consistent access to healthcare due to socioeconomic barriers,” said Adam Heath, CHC’s Chief Operations Officer. “Offering these services on the campus removes many of these barriers and has been shown to improve health outcomes.”
Schools and their community-based health care partners have a common goal. They want students to feel healthy (mind and body), so they are ready to learn and thrive. Edmonds School District has been working with partners to plan for a SBHC for the past year. The plans stemmed from the COVID-19 response.
“SBHCs brings together health and education to improve student’s academic and health outcomes and provide needed services to a school community. Edmonds School District is excited to undertake a project in partnership with Community Health Centers of Snohomish County and Verdant Health Commission that will bring both primary care and increase mental health services to our students and reduce barriers for our families and the community. The ultimate goal is to help students to be healthy, stay in school, and learn better.” said Mara Marano-Bianco, Edmonds School District’s Director of Student Health Services.
Verdant Health Commission currently supports school-based services at Meadowdale High School. They plan to engage the current school-based providers in the planning process for the SBHC to ensure that those closest to the existing work have a voice in identifying needs, gaps in services, and care coordination opportunities.
“The Verdant Health Commission is dedicated to ensuring all students have access to healthcare. We look forward to working with Edmonds Public Schools and Community Health Centers of Snohomish County to expand services at Meadowdale High School” said Dr. Jim Distelhorst, President of the Board.
Meadowdale High School-based Health Center plans to initiate community Town Hall events at Meadowdale High School to learn more from the community about their needs and the services they would like to see in the SBHC. Communication will be sent out through Edmonds School District re: the Town Hall events. The Edmonds School District Board will also continue to receive updates on the SBHC planning and implementation progress and community members are welcome to join these meetings.
Content Source: Edmonds School District Press Release