Hazelwood and Riverview Gardens School Districts join growing trend of operating school-based health centers by partnering with Christian Hospital Foundation and Care STL Health
By Charlotte Beard
According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (www.hrsa.gov), “Nearly 2,000 school-based health centers operate nationwide, according to the most recent National Assembly on School-Based Health Care census. Most are open every day school is in session.”
In North St. Louis County, both Normandy Schools Collaborative and the Jennings School District have school-based health centers which opened last year. On Oct. 29 both Hazelwood and Riverview Gardens School Districts hosted ribbon cutting ceremonies in celebration of their school-based health centers. Both health centers are funded by the Christian Hospital Foundation in partnership with CareSTL Health who administers care to the students.
The School-Based Health Center for Riverview Gardens is operated out of the high school at 1218 Shepley Drive and Hazelwood’s center is operated at the Hazelwood East High/Middle School Center located at 11300 Dunn Road.
Extensive research has gone into determining the health care needs for both schools.
Dr. Jason Purnell, Director of Health Equity Works at Washington University stated at the Hazelwood ceremony, “Four years ago we mapped in great detail the health landscape for African Americans in the St. Louis region and it was clear that too many children weren’t getting the basic care they needed to be healthy and be prepared to learn.”
In addition to Dr. Purnell and the president for the Christian Hospital and Christian Hospital Foundation, Rick Stevens, many community leaders were present for the ribbon cutting ceremonies. Prior to the ceremony a program was orchestrated to commemorate the achievement.
Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, Superintendent of Hazelwood Schools, gave the following words at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Hazelwood East location, “Mr. Stevens and I both started our positions in North County about three years ago and one of our first conversations had to do with a school-based health plan. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that amount of time but here we are today with the beginning of an exciting opportunity for our students.”
Regina Askew, Director of Behavior Health for Myrtle Hilliard Davis Comprehensive Health Centers, Inc. who also represented CareSTL Health, shared, “We want to not only teach our children reading, writing, and arithmetic but we also want them to be knowledgeable of preventative care and be able to access those services. We have behavior health counselors, licensed clinical social workers available who are trained in trauma informed care, who are trained in many of the mental health diagnosis (of) children.”
The center will also be staffed with other needed licensed practitioners which would allow the provision of sports physicals, verification of up-to-date immunization records, issuance of prescription scripts to a parent’s pharmacy when needed, treatment of illnesses such as asthma, and a host of other health services.
Additionally, “Kids can access the service if they have been sexually active and have a STD,” stated Askew. “They can come and get that treatment for themselves. So, it’s important that confidentiality be taken into consideration. They can also talk to someone (here).”
Askew also shared that CareSTL staff will partner with the school’s nurse to assess needs. The center will be medically staffed two-and-a-half days each week and staffed daily by behavioral professionals.
“We are here 1 to 4 p.m. and we’re at Riverview 7:30 to 11 a.m.,” Askew stated for the behavioral staff.
Matt Phillips, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services shared that consent forms are sent home for parents to complete prior to children receiving any services from the health center. “Once we get the consent form that gives them full access to the facility,” stated Phillips.
Rick Stevens, President of Christian Hospital and the Christian Hospital Foundation shared that the facility will be larger after the build outs are completed at a later schedule. Stevens welcomes community support of their vision through contributions to the foundation.
“School based health care is a powerful tool for achieving health equity among children and adolescents who unjustly experience disparities in outcome simply because of race, ethnicity or family income,” stated Stevens. “Opening these school-based centers is making good on our commitment to the community to get outside the hospital’s four walls to address these disparities.”
CUTLINE: Photos courtesy Hazelwood School District
1-Hazelwood School District and community healthcare officials join to celebrate proclamation of Hazelwood East School-Based Health Center Day issued by Barbara Fraser, Education Liaison for County Executive.
2 – HSD Superintendent Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart addresses the audience at the ceremony, held in the Hazelwood East High School Library.
3 – HSD Board of Education President Mark Behlmann (second from right) presents Christian Hospital President Rick Stevens (far right) with commemorative display to mark the occasion.
4 – District and community health officials join in the ribbon-cutting.