School-Based Health Care Awareness Month

February is National School-Based Health Care Awareness Month. Building Healthy Futures currently supports three school-based health initiatives:  School-Based Health Centers, Oral Health Services, and our newest venture, comprehensive Vision Services. School-based health services are uniquely poised to positively impact the health and, ultimately, education trajectory for children. As the health care delivery system evolves in the United States, we foresee school-based delivery models growing in both urban and rural communities across Nebraska.

Since 2010, School-Based Health Centers (SBHC) have been serving students attending Omaha Public Schools, with Charles Drew Health Center (CDHC) and OneWorld Community Health Centers (OWCHC) operating eight SBHC sites. Each site offers both medical and behavioral health services, along with teledental consultation, serving as a pivotal link in connecting children and their families to a medical home. By offering on-site services at the child’s school, barriers to receiving services in traditional health settings are mitigated, thereby decreasing the use of higher cost health services, such as an Emergency Room visits.

The theme for this year’s SBHC Awareness Month is Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies. As recognized by Federally Qualified Health Centers, such as OWCHC and CDHC, whole person health is fundamentally served by an integrated medical/behavioral health care model. Omaha’s SBHCs are leading the country in piloting innovative public health practices in primary care in our schools. The pioneering work of Omaha’s SBHCs has demonstrated through quantitative data that behavioral health issues are impacting more than one-third of students in our schools. By introducing primary prevention strategies paired with 1:1 clinical interventions, our SBHCs are widening the net to positively impact health and education outcomes for our children.

Building Healthy Futures assisted our partners in sharing this new approach to “health care” within the state. Mr. Tom Lee, Principal at Northwest High School, joined us recently in presenting at the Public Health Association of Nebraska Conference. This past fall, Aja Anderson, Care Manager for CDHC, presented at the American Public Health Association conference in Chicago; and this summer, our SBHCs have been asked to offer a panel presentation at the School-Based Health Alliance National Conference in Indianapolis.

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