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State funds allow Akron Children’s to expand school-based health clinics

03-07-2022 (Akron, Mahoning Valley, Ohio )

Akron Children’s Hospital has been awarded a $3.9 million Ohio Department of Health grant to expand its School-Based Health Centers, a program which began in 2019 to use the schools as a convenient way to provide health care to children who may not otherwise have access.  

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Friday announced that a total of $25.9 million would be awarded for 136 new or expanded school-based health centers throughout Ohio.

“These funds will allow us to expand beyond the one nurse practitioner team we have in place, buy telehealth equipment for schools and, essentially, help achieve our expansion plans in one year instead of five years,” said Michele Wilmoth, director of School Health Services for Akron Children’s Hospital.

The grant money will allow Akron Children’s to expand its School-Based Health Centers in districts already onboard: Akron Public Schools, Windham Exempted Village Schools, Sebring Local Schools, East Palestine City School District, and Warren City Schools.

Using this model, an Akron Children’s nurse practitioner, working with school nurses and other team members, is able to:

  • Diagnose a child with a minor illness in person or by telehealth, with parent permission, and arrange for a prescription to be ordered without the child having to leave school or a parent having to leave work.
  • Connect a family to a pediatric medical home and other community resources.
  • Help manage students with chronic illnesses, like diabetes and asthma.
  • Help diagnose a behavioral health concern and refer the family to a specialist.
  • Offer vision and hearing screenings.
  • Provide a well-child exam and immunizations in a private location within the school office for a child behind on preventative care due to the pandemic, a residential move or other reasons.

In addition to hiring more staff, the grant money will allow Akron Children’s to purchase telehealth equipment for each school building. Using this state-of-the-art equipment, the nurse practitioner is able to hear heart and lung sounds, and see in a child’s ear, nose and throat for a full exam even if she is not physically present in the building where the student is sick.

“These clinics remove many of the barriers that prevent families from getting health care for their children, such as a lack of transportation and inability to take time off from work,” said Wilmoth. “In addition, they keep children in school whenever possible and that continuity is a key factor in their academic success.”