Bringing healthcare into schools


The Ritenour School District officially opened the Husky Health Center, which is administrated by CareSTL Health, is in the north wing of Hoech Middle School

By Charlotte Beard

Healthcare continues to make its way into schools.

The Ritenour School District officially opened its school-based health center for its PreK-12 students Jan. 28. The Husky Health Center, which is administrated by CareSTL Health, is in the north wing of Hoech Middle School at 3312 Ashby Road in St. Ann. The district celebrated the new venture with a ribbon cutting on Feb. 21. 

“Opening a school-based health center for our students makes it more convenient for them to receive the quality care they need to manage chronic conditions and improve their health, which ultimately optimizes their learning potential,” said Ritenour Superintendent Dr. Chris Kilbride.

District data states that more than 2,900 Ritenour students have chronic health conditions. The center provides services that include chronic disease management for asthma and diabetes, wellness exams, immunizations, annual and sports physicals, nutrition guidance and referrals for other medical services. CareSTL Health provides these services through the center with the aid of two nurse practitioners, a registered medical assistant, and a behavioral health consultant. The behavior health consultant does not diagnose mental health disorders or provide prescriptions however, a referral can be made for those services. 

No payments are requested from students at the time of service. CareSTL seeks payment for services from the patient’s medical insurance payer source. However, no patient will be turned away because of an inability to pay. Chief Executive Officer for CareSTL Health, Angela Clabon, shared that other than billing insurance for payments, grants and some funds from the government are received to care for those uninsured.

The new school-based health center initiative also provides transportation to and from its site for district students. Kilbride shared during his speech at the grand opening that the district purchased a minivan to eliminate the obstacle of transportation from any of its schools to the health center for care. 

Transportation is available every day that school is in session. Parents and guardians are also permitted to take their children to the center during early morning walk-in hours and/or they also may accompany their child to their appointment during the school day. Walk-in hours are 7:30 to 9 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and appointment schedules are 9a.m. to 3 p.m. based on specific timelines. Visit https://www.ritenour.k12.mo.us for details.

As CareSTL Health has required with its other school-based health centers (Jennings, Hazelwood, and Riverview Gardens), Ritenour School District parents/guardians must complete an authorization form and sign it for a child under the age of 18 to be seen at the center for services. The form only needs to be signed once while they are enrolled in a Ritenour school. CareSTL Health staff is equipped with data to ensure students receive care that coincides with any existing conditions.

“In the state of Missouri, most of the health centers and hospitals have (access to) a huge health record system; we can see data from those patients in St. Louis and (throughout) the state of Missouri” states Clabon. “For any patients seen at any of our four health centers or school-based centers, the records are electronic. So, wherever they are – if they come here (to Husky), we have their data. If they go to one of our headquarters, we have their information. If they go to the hospital, we have access to the information. We have collaboration where we share health information so that we can take care of our patients as a system.”

In addition to CareSTL Health’s support to the district, Kilbride shared that a lot of work by the district’s administrative team went into making Husky Health Center a reality. Among those members were Dwight Lindhorst, Chief Financial Officer and Michael Smith, Director of Operations who were involved in measures needed to implement the initiative; and Julie Hahn, Assistant Superintendent of Data, Intervention and Student Support who ensured the center’s space would be student-focused and welcoming for students.

“I am so proud of Ritenour School District for actually opening up the center,” shared Clabon. “They asked us—we didn’t come seeking them, they asked for the services. So, for them to have the vision to know that this is something that’s good for their school—I’m proud.”

CUTLINE: Photos by Kate Edmonson The Husky Health Center, which is administrated by CareSTL Health, is in the north wing of Hoech Middle School at 3312 Ashby Road in St. Ann. The district celebrated the new venture with a ribbon cutting on Feb. 21.