Henry Ford Health System recently opened its newly renovated school-based health center at Fitzgerald High School in Warren, offering a more spacious clinic and upgraded medical equipment to the nearly 700 students it treats each year, many of whom have no other source of care.
The renovation was made possible through a $500,000 grant given to Henry Ford's School Based and Community Health Program (SBCHP) from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
It is the first-ever source of federal funding to support school-based health centers.
A portion of the grant funding was also utilized in the seven Detroit schools and one Detroit youth center with Henry Ford school-based health centers to upgrade services and equipment.
In all, Henry Ford's school-based health centers log more than 15,000 visits for children and adolescents in Southeast Michigan each year.
"The HRSA grant has allowed our School Based and Community Health Program to expand its work and make needed upgrades to our school-based health centers," said Charles Barone, MD, chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Henry Ford. "This will ensure healthier futures for the children and youth in our community who might not otherwise have access to care,"
"The school based health center has provided many children and families with access to medical services that may have gone unmet in the community. Our district values the partnership with Henry Ford Health System," said Barbara VanSweden, superintendent of Fitzgerald Public Schools. "We are very grateful to the Fitzgerald Board of Education that had the vision 25 years ago to recognize the impact of quality health care on student achievement and the willingness of Henry Ford to support this vision."
Henry Ford began management of the school-based center in Fitzgerald High School in 2003. The center had not been renovated since it opened in 1989.
As part of the renovation, Henry Ford was able to improve the 1,838 square-foot health center's functionality, privacy and appearance by adding a third exam room and upgrading its two existing exam rooms. Heating and cooling systems were upgraded as well.
The renovation, completed this fall, incorporated the use of low VOC emitting paints and flooring materials, promoting a healthy indoor air quality.
The grant also provided funding to all of Henry Ford's school-based health centers for new medical equipment, including exam tables with stirrups, audiometers and glucose meter/cholesterol machines. The upgrades provide for more unified equipment and ensure the same level of care is offered across all Henry Ford SBCHP sites.
Older computers at each site were upgraded as well, and new computers were added to each exam room to provide staff greater access to electronic patient records. Patients also may use the new computers to complete online health assessments and view health education material online.
Because of school-based health centers:
Children in some of the most vulnerable school districts have access to primary and preventive healthcare, including physical exams, immunizations, dental service, health education, testing and treatment for illnesses or injuries and mental health counseling.
Students have 23% higher standardized test scores, a 70% decrease in violence, and a 62% decrease in pregnancy after one year than schools without a school-based health center.
The Henry Ford SBCHP model includes a board-certified pediatrician to direct the services and assure the most appropriate care, along with nurse practitioners, nurses, medical assistants and social workers provide healthcare and mental health services.