Number of school-based health clinics keeps growing

Kentucky Primary Care Association map; for a larger version, click on it; to download, right click.

The number of school-based clinics in Kentucky keeps growing, as four community health centers are getting federal grants of $200,000 each to open new primary-care programs based in schools. The funds will help expand school-based clinics of A+ Family Healthcare in Brownsville, Big Sandy Health Care in Prestonsburg, Health Help Inc. (White House Clinics) of McKee, and Shawnee Christian Healthcare of Louisville. They are among 125 grants announced around the nation this week.

Kentucky Primary Care Association CEO David Bolt said on a news release, “School-based clinics operated by our members provide essential services to children and teenagers who might not otherwise have access to care. Many of our clinic members provide multiple services in schools. KPCA members provide a combination of primary care, dental, and behavioral health services in more than 250 school health center locations throughout the commonwealth. Students cannot learn if they are not healthy. Partnerships between our member clinics and schools help keep kids healthy.”

The KPCA said the centers will use the money “to reduce disparities and improve access to care by increasing the number of young people receiving essential health care, including mental-health services. Health centers will also use these funds for activities such as community and patient outreach, health education, and translation support.”

A recent federal study published in the American Medical Association’s journal JAMA Pediatrics found that between 2016 and 2020, the number of children from 3 to 17 who were diagnosed with anxiety grew by 29 percent and those with depression by 27 percent.

“There is no doubt that the last two years have been challenging for our kids and we need to do all that we can to support their health and well-being,” said Carole Johnson, administrator of the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, which is issuing the grants. “By expanding our support for school-based health services, we are creating more opportunities for young people to get the help they need to address both physical and mental health needs that have been overlooked for too long.”

KPCA says one in nine U.S. children gets primary health care through a HRSA-funded center. In 2020, 41 percent of community health centers provided services to children and youth at more than 3,200 school-based sites. In Kentucky, more than 250 individual school clinic sites are operating.

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