The March 7, 2018 meeting of the Cuyahoga County Council Health, Human Services and Aging Committee featured a presentation about the School Health Program (SHP), from two MetroHealth system employees, Katie Davis, SHP Director, and Dr. Christine Alexander-Rager, senior advisor and participating physician in the program. The SHP is a partnership between MetroHealth and the Cleveland Municipal School District (CMSD), to provide a medical presence in school buildings. Through the program, doctors and nurses from MetroHealth can bring medical services such as immunizations, physicals, and mental health screenings directly to the students, after receiving permission from the parent/guardian of each child. Additionally, Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) is also available through the administration of Nexplanon, a form of contraception that is insertable into the arm and is one of the most effective forms of birth control.The Student Health Program is a partnership between MetroHealth & CMSD. Through the program, doctors & nurses can provide medical services such as immunizations, directly to the students Click To Tweet
Usually, when a child sees a doctor, they have to leave school, travel to the appointment (which may take up to 20 minutes), then travel back to school. By bringing most medical services to the school, this greatly reduces time spent outside of the classroom and has practically eliminated time spent outside of the school building. The School Health Program is a national model. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that students who are in schools with a program like this one have increased graduation rates and health outcomes, as well as decreases in hospitalizations, substance use, and teen pregnancy. Currently, there are 13 on-site locations in CMSD schools and one mobile unit. About half of all of all students at participating schools use the program, and MetroHealth officials are working to increase that number. According to recent research on the effectiveness of the program, students who participate have already shown improved attendance rates, compared with students who do not have SHP on site. Students are seen regardless of ability to pay, and are also connected to other community resources and organizations if they face other hardships such as housing or transportation.
Councilwoman Shontel Brown opened the question period about the program by asking Dr. Alexander-Rager about long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). Dr. Alexander-Rager explained that currently the health program offers Nexplanon birth control, but that the program may examine adding other LARC options, such as intrauterine devices (IUD).
Through the [SHP] program, doctors and nurses from MetroHealth can bring medical services such as immunizations, physicals, and mental health screenings directly to the students, after receiving permission from the parent/guardian of each child.
Councilwoman Brown then asked if the program has considered expanding beyond the city of Cleveland, to which the respondents said that it would be dependent on funding.
Councilman Dale Miller and Chairwoman Yvonne Conwell both suggested that there is a need to increase awareness of the program to school officials, students and others. Chairwoman Conwell suggested partnering with the Northeast Ohio Health Network (NEON), as they have a mobile dental unit that is highly successful. Councilwoman Nan Baker asked the presenters about the parental consent and communication process. Director Davis said parents are regularly updated on their child’s health, so they are informed about any medical conditions that may be in need of treatment. Finally, Councilman Michael Houser asked about lead testing performed within the program, and if there had been any findings from those tests. Dr. Alexander-Rager explained that when a student tests positive for lead, that student is connected to the lead-related health services which are available at MetroHealth as well as matched with a partner organization.
After public comment, the meeting was adjourned.