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Evart School Board Considers Family Health Care Adolescent Health Center Plans

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Is integration of health care and schools a good idea?  Will the combined effort be successful?

Evart board examines benefits of Family Health Care adolescent health center plans
By Olivia Fellows - June 17, 2023

EVART — During a recent meeting, the Evart Public Schools board of education received additional information on how an adolescent health center would benefit its community and local families.

At the meeting June 12, the board heard from Family Health Care CEO Julie Tatko and chief medical officer with the child and adolescent health centers, Sarah Weers, who discussed the specifics of what the center will bring to the district.

The Child and Adolescent Health Center Program Planning Grants through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will provide $100,000 in funding for the school district to work with Family Health Care to create a school-based health clinic that would deliver mental and primary health care services to children and adolescents ages 5 to 21.

Within a school-based health center, medical services are provided by a nurse practitioner or physician assistant. Mental health services are provided by a licensed master’s level mental health provider such as a social worker.

Tatko said the project is on track and the team is hitting objectives.

“We have to fulfill mandatory objectives, six in total, and we have objectives one and two completed,” Tatko said. “The school provides a space for us and professionals, this that includes construction or renovations, and then maintaining the health center with custodial and repairs. Everything else is handled by Family Health Care, staffing, furnishing the child and adolescent health center.”

School-based health clinics offer services year-round to patients, not just during the school year.

Part of the establishment of a center requires the creation of a Community Advisory Committee, made up of school staff, local parents of school-aged children or adolescents, school health representatives and clinicians from the sponsoring provider.

Tatko explained that parents sign a release for children to be able to use the facility, and if a child does not have a consent form signed by parent or guardian, they can’t be treated.

School-based health centers have been provided in Michigan through the MDHHS Child and Adolescent Health Center program since the 1980s.

Family Health Care operates school-based clinics in Baldwin, White Cloud and Grant.

“In 2018, over 37,000 Children and Youth used the services in Michigan at a school based health care,” Tatko said. “We help with the child's education. We help keep them and save time so that they're not gone for as long. Graduation rates have risen, and there's going to be over 25 new child and adolescent health centers in the state of Michigan.”

Weers explained some additional benefits of having a center in a school district, including that the center can provide additional services to every member of a family.

“The (school) health centers are basically like a standalone clinic where students can get all of their health care right in the clinic in the school,” Weers said. “So, they don't need to leave school, their parents don't need to take off work to take them to their doctor's office, they can get their preventative health care, they can get mental health care. If we ended up with space for provision they can get prescriptions for their medications, and they might need their immunizations.

“If they're acutely sick, they can come down and see us in the clinic, we can evaluate if they stay in school, or if they need to go home,” she said. “We can also co-manage chronic illnesses like asthma or attention deficit disorders or hyperactivity disorders with their existing primary care provider.”

Weers explained that the school center can either be a student’s primary care provider or it can partner with an existing primary care provider, and the school centers do a lot of health education and Medicaid outreach and enrollment.

Clinic employees that see students during the day will contact parents to update them on what the child was seen for and what the center recommends for potential next steps to address the child’s needs.

Weers said communicating with parents is important to staff.

“We try to be flexible, give the students what they need to stay healthy and be able to learn,” Weers said. “I know this community has scarce resources when it comes to medical providers, navigating some of those difficult situations with health insurance, and we want to help with being convenient and confidential and helping with mental health needs and then reducing the need to take time off for parents.”

Next steps for the committee include collecting responses from community members regarding needs in the community, as well as sharing the information on the new health center project plans with families in the community to spread awareness.

The new school-based clinic in and Evart is targeted to open during the 2023-2024 school year.

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Grant, Michigan School Board terminates contract with Family Health Care:



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