School Based Health Center (SBHC) Initiatives

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Lake Forest Elementary in Sandy springs, GA opened the doors to their clinic in May.

The Urban Health Program (UHP) advocates for the improvement of school-based health services. Our activities have included support of state legislation that increases the number of school nurses throughout Georgia schools (see above), as well as the development of Comprehensive School Based Health Centers (SBHCs). SBHCs are primary care centers that blend medical care with preventive and psychosocial services. The goals of SBHCs are to increase access and improve health and academic outcomes for underserved students. UHP has spear-headed the development and expansion of SBHCs throughout the state of Georgia. UHP provides 12-month planning grants to communities for the purpose of establishing SBHCs. Grantees are charged with forming a community-wide advisory council, conducting needs assessments, developing a business plan, galvanizing their community to support the SBHC, identifying targeted schools, and researching and applying for SBHC funding. In 2013, the UHP received funding from the Georgia Healthcare Foundation to develop three elementary SBHCs. Programs selected for these start-up funds were located in Catoosa, Fulton, and Dougherty counties, all of which had successfully completed the 12-month planning process. All three sites are fully operational and have received overwhelming support from their school boards, school administrators and staff, parents, and broader communities.

Hallways to Health

Hallways to Health is an initiative sponsored by the School-Based Health Alliance and Kaiser Permanente. Georgia, through the UHP, was selected along with 3 other sites (Washington/Oregon, California and Maryland) to implement the project. The goal of this two-year project is to help SBHCs facilitate improvements in health and behavior among students, their families, and school staff. School personnel collaborate to define specific target goals in the areas of obesity prevention and treatment, behavioral health, and school employee wellness. To combat obesity, schools might choose from a variety of strategies, from shaping cafeteria food choices to increasing school-wide fitness activities. To address behavioral health issues, a recommended strategy is to develop a process to screen for behavioral health problems and a plan for increasing access to community treatment resources. Three SBHCs in Georgia were selected to participate in the project. They include Whitefoord (Atlanta), Turner (Albany) and Lake Forest (Sandy Springs) Elementary SBHCs.

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