School-Based Health Services provides kids with quick and easy medical care where they are — at school. With services in 43 school districts across 10 northeast Ohio counties, Akron Children’s school nurses serve as advocates for student health and wellness, while helping them manage medical needs in the school setting.
With a goal to improve access to care for all kids and help narrow the health equity gap, School-Based Health Services is expanding its care services thanks to a partnership with Akron Children’s Pediatrics. Families now can schedule appointments for sick visits, annual well checks, sports physicals and more with pediatric providers right in their school buildings.
“We are an extension of primary care to make sure all kids’ health needs are met in the schools,” said Lisa Miyatake, DO, medical director of School-Based Health Services and a pediatrician for Akron Children’s Pediatrics. “The program is available at 14 schools with plans to expand across the region.”
“It makes sense to align what we’re doing in the schools with Akron Children’s pediatric providers,” added Teresa Fletcher, APRN, program coordinator for Akron Children’s School-Based Health Services. “The program not only helps patient families conveniently get care in school, but it also extends care to those families that don’t have a primary care home and haven’t received preventative screenings.”
What does School-Based Health Services provide?
For many years, Akron Children’s school nursing staff have administered first-aid, medications and treatments; addressed emergency situations; managed both acute and chronic health needs; and provided education on wellness and disease prevention for students.
Now, with a parent’s permission, kids also can receive treatment in school for minor illnesses, such as:
- Cold and flu
- Sore throat
- Allergy and sinus issues
- Pink eye
“Using advanced technology, pediatric providers can hear heart and lung sounds and see in a child’s ears, nose and throat for a full exam even if the provider is not physically at the school,” said Dr. Miyatake.
In addition, families can schedule appointments with pediatric providers either in-person or via telehealth in certain school districts for annual well visits, hearing and vision tests, teen health, sports physicals, referrals to specialty care, such as mental health, and administering recommended immunizations.
How does it work?
During school hours, a child is initially evaluated by the Akron Children’s school nursing staff. If they believe a child has a minor illness and would benefit from treatment by an Akron Children’s pediatric provider, they will request a parent’s permission for that to occur.
For example, let’s say a sick child goes to the school nurse complaining of a sore throat and fever. A pediatric provider can now see that child privately for an evaluation, even perform a strep test, and diagnose the child during school hours. Staff will attempt to reach the parent to discuss the child’s visit, prescription information and recommended follow-up.
“Traditionally, a school nurse would call a parent to pick up the child and coordinate care with their own primary care provider,” said Teresa. “With provider-based services in the school, the process has already been started to treat the child’s sore throat before leaving school. When the parent picks up the child, any necessary medication has been called into a pharmacy and the parent receives a full report.”
What are the benefits?
It’s an efficient way for families to access medical care for their children’s sick symptoms, well visits, sports physicals and more during the school hours.
- In-school care reduces missed school days and barriers to care, such as parents who can’t miss work or have difficulty accessing transportation.
- Prescriptions, if necessary, are called into a family’s preferred pharmacy.
- Care plan and visit details are in MyChart and can be mailed home upon request.
- The program only bills for services if a family has private insurance or Medicaid.
“Another added benefit is we can perform a full preventative well exam during a child’s sports physical,” said Teresa. “A quick sports physical doesn’t include all the screenings that a well visit does, including recommended immunizations.”
“And because care is provided by Akron Children’s Pediatrics providers, kids are receiving the same high-quality care they expect from Akron Children’s,” added Dr. Miyatake.
Who can participate?
School Based Health Services cares for every child in need — whether a patient at Akron Children’s or not.
“We are a partner with primary care providers to increase health equity and improve care for all kids,” said Teresa. “Every child deserves to have equal access to quality care.”