The possibility of free health care for your children is not a dream but a reality at many area middle and high schools.
School-Based Health Centers are now in 226 New York State schools, serving nearly 200,000 students and 20% of those are in rural areas, like Upstate New York. Carthage Area Central School has 8 of those centers, the North Country Children’s Clinic has 6 of centers and E.J. Noble Hospital in Gouverneur just opened their first center.
“School-Based Health Centers are kind of a mixture of a doctor’s office slash urgent care inside the school. We exist for the students that are registered in that school and then they register in our clinic also,” said Tonya Duerr, Carthage Area Hospital’s School-Based Health Center Coordinator. “It’s the low cost, most effective model for delivering primary health care to school aged children.”
Today in an effort to educate and celebrate School-Based Health Center Awareness Month, a presentation by Carthage Area Hospital administrators, Health Center Coordinators, NYS Coalition for School-based Health Center Directors, and local and state politicians joined together, discussing the many benefits and goals of the growing clinics.
With the Executive Budget in New York State still under deliberation the total money allotted to the School-Based Health Centers is up in the air, but Joey Marie Horton who is the Co-Executive Director for the NYS Coalition for School-Based Health Centers, says they are very lucky.
“School-Based Health Centers have received an 11% cut within the last two years. However, we were lucky to be held harmless this year in Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget at $21.7 million,” said Horton.
According to the New York State Coalition for School-Based Health Centers the following are benefits of having such health care options available:
- Located in schools, where students spend most of their time
- Provide physical and mental health services, including screenings, immunizations, sports physicals, counseling, and education on health issues.
- Offer services at no out-of-pocket costs to all students who enroll
- Reach vulnerable populations including children and teens who do not have health insurance
- Prevent unnecessary hospitalizations and reduce emergency room visits
- Improve school attendance
“The parents and the children will never receive a bill from us. There are no out of the pocket expenses for them, so any of those co-pays and stuff, we just write those off,” said Duerr.
For more information about School-Based Health Centers, visit www.nystatesbhc.org.