Choptank Community Health System’s School-Based Health Centers (SBHC) in Talbot and Caroline counties have re-opened for the school year, with new protocols and safety measures in place for patients during the ongoing COVID pandemic.
The new safety protocols include personal protective equipment (PPE) and social distancing for all staff and student areas, as well as the screening of all patients before appointment scheduling. Choptank Health is also offering telehealth and curbside visits at the schools for COVID testing, with quarantining protocols and separate well-child spaces on-premise.
Choptank Health operates 12 school-based health centers that are located in each Caroline County school and in Talbot County’s Easton Elementary, Easton Middle, and Easton High Schools. Any student enrolled in the SBHC program can receive care at any location and can receive care regardless of if they are attending in person or online.
Choptank Community Health System’s Community Based Programs Clinical Lead Chrissy Bartz, PAC, MMS says common medical concerns and illnesses being addressed during visits can include sports physicals and well-child checks; medication refills; COVID-19 symptoms and testing; cold and allergy symptoms; asthma and breathing problems; stomach aches; headaches; rashes and other skin complaints; minor injuries; and more.
“Focusing on health promotion as well as caring for sick students helps children make good choices, stay healthy, and stay in school,” says Bartz. “These Centers give students access to timely medical, dental, and behavioral health care in the place where they spend the most time. School-Based Health Centers also improve attendance by limiting the amount of time students and staff miss from school and work by providing the care they need, and then allowing them to return to school as appropriate.”
Each Health Center is staffed by licensed advance practice clinicians, including Certified Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants, and function like a typical doctor’s office. Choptank anticipates dental services—including dental screenings, sealants, and dental education—returning to the SBHCs soon.
Choptank Community Health System’s Kim Fitzgerald, CRNP says she is predominantly seeing students for assessments either curbside and by video calls, with visits addressing students experiencing mental health and stomach issues, along with aches and pains. Choptank Health patients are also being seen for free sports physicals at the schools.
According to the School-Based Health Alliance, school-based health care is a powerful tool for achieving health equity among children and adolescents who unjustly experience disparities in outcomes simply because of their race, ethnicity, or family income. The Alliance says school-based health care is also a commonsense idea gaining currency across the country as it places critically needed services like medical, behavioral, dental, and vision care directly in schools so that all young people, no matter their zip code, have equal opportunity to learn and grow. More about the Alliance is at sbh4all.org.
Choptank Community Health System’s mission is to provide access to exceptional, comprehensive, and integrated health care for all. Choptank Health’s vision is to improve the health and well-being of people in the communities served by providing outstanding care experiences while being an exceptional place to work and make a difference.
School-Based Health Center appointments can be scheduled by calling the school’s health staff or Health Center, with more at choptankhealth.org.