SBHCs are medical centers that blend primary care with preventative and psychosocial services.
Diana Allen, chief executive officer at Primary Healthcare Centers, said Tiger Creek was chosen for three reasons: it is a Title I school; it is designated as being in a medically underserved community, and it has more limited accessibility to medical care.
SBHCs are located either within a school building or in close proximity to a school. Tiger Creek will operate from a to-be-acquired modular building on the school’s campus.
There are more than 1,800 centers nationwide, serving more than 1.8 million students, faculty and family members. Tiger Creek is only one of three funded for Georgia in 2012.
“The centers take all children and school personnel, regardless of their ability to pay,” Allen said.
The initiative at Tiger Creek was funded with two grants totaling $450,000.
Advantages for children
There are four main areas where children find advantages from being a part of an SBHC: preventative care; allowing children more class time; strong parent, school and community support; reducing unnecessary and costly ER visits.
When health care is far away, expensive or difficult to access, children are less likely to receive preventative care. SBHCs help to keep children in class.
When parents give permission for their children to be seen at SBHCs, they know they will not have to miss work to care for minor issues and that their children will receive prompt attention from health-care providers trained to work with children. SBHCs are also shown to reduce the negative economic impact of unneeded emergency room care in communities.
The clinics blend medical care with wellness and preventative services. The areas they deal with are acute care, well-child checks and immunizations, chronic health problems (diabetes, asthma, ADHD, obesity), health education and outreach.
Some clinics, including Tiger Creek, also have general dentistry and behavioral health services.
How will it work?
The SBHC complements and expands the work of the school nurse. Catoosa schools superintendent Denia Reese explained it, using the model of a suspected strep throat case.
Currently the school nurse is not authorized to diagnose, so the parents must be called and a trip to the ER or doctor is scheduled. With the SBHC unit in place, the school nurse may refer the child to the on-site pediatrician or nurse practitioner and a diagnosis may be made and drugs ordered.
The clinic will be a child-friendly themed facility with exam rooms, lab and waiting room.