Even the best teachers can’t engage students if they’re absent due to illness. University Health System’s Southwest ISD School-based Health Center, aimed at keeping kids healthy and in the classroom, opened today at the Southwest Independent School District Central Office Complex, which is adjacent to Southwest High School, Southwest Academy and Southwest Elementary School.
The health center is a partnership between University Health System and Southwest ISD. The center will offer low-cost primary and urgent care services, along with immunizations, sports physicals, patient education and other services to students and their siblings age 18 and younger living in the Southwest ISD district.
“Providing access to a clinic in our backyard will assist our students to greater, timely healthcare, like never before,” said Dr. Lloyd Verstuyft, superintendent of Southwest ISD. “We are excited about this opportunity for our school district and community.”
About 4,000 students attend classes within walking distance of the health center, located at 11914 Dragon Lane near Loop 1604 and Old Pearsall Road.
This is the second school-based health center opened by University Health System. The Harlandale School-based Health Center opened in August 2013 on the campus of Collier Elementary School. Additional clinics are planned in partnership with other local school districts.
“The goal of this new school-based health center is to provide families convenient and affordable access to much-needed health services for their children,” said George B. Hernández Jr., president and CEO of University Health System. “We hope this will be a welcome addition to the community, which has few other medical options nearby.”
About 1,900 school-based health centers nationwide provide services to children, many of them in schools with large numbers of economically disadvantaged or at-risk children. By one estimate, these health centers result in a cost savings of $970 per child in reduced emergency visits and cost benefits to schools, whose funding is tied to daily attendance.
Having a clinic on site not only improves health, but academic success as well, said Dr. Carlos Moreno, executive director of community health services at University Health System, who oversees the operations of the school-based health center program.
“It assists the school in helping children achieve educational excellence by making sure they don’t miss classes,” Dr. Moreno said. “They attend, they’re engaged and there’s no lapse in their learning.”
Southwest ISD is providing the facilities while University Health System provides staff and equipment. The health center features four exam rooms, a classroom and laboratory space. Medical care will be delivered by a mid-level provider such as a nurse practitioner, along with nursing and support staff. Some lab tests will be available, and the clinic will be linked to the rest of University Health System through its award-winning electronic medical record.
Center hours will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday. Most forms of insurance, including Medicaid and CHIP, will be accepted. No child will be turned away because of an inability to pay.
Partial funding for the school-based health centers is available to University Health System through the Texas 1115 Medicaid waiver, which includes special Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment funds for improving healthcare access and quality statewide.
For more information or an appointment, call 358-TALK (8255).
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