With the aim of keeping kids healthy and in the classroom, Bexar County’s first school-based health center opens its doors Thursday on the campus of Collier Elementary School, a partnership between University Health System and the Harlandale Independent School District.
The HISD School-based Health 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 Harlandale district. Behavioral health screenings and referrals will be added later.
“The opening of this clinic is the result of our district's partnership with University Health Systems as we work together to improve the lives of children and families throughout the Harlandale community,” said Ray Madrigal, superintendent of the Harlandale ISD. “When children are sick, they can't go to school so they miss out on education. This clinic is designed especially to meet the health needs of our students. Our children will enjoy better health and our school district will reap the benefits of fewer absences — thus increasing state funding, which is based on average daily student attendance.”
The Harlandale clinic is the first of at least three school-based health centers University Health System plans to open in partnership with school districts throughout Bexar County over the next two years, with a second clinic to open in a temporary site in the San Antonio Independent School District later this year. A state-of-the-art mobile clinic will also be added to serve children in more remote parts of the community.
The clinics will work closely with school nurses to make sure children get the care they need to stay healthy.
“Our new HISD School-based Health Center, and the other school-based centers that will follow, is in keeping with our goal to improve access to health services for the residents of Bexar County — in this case, our youngest residents,” said George B. Hernández Jr., president/CEO of University Health System. “It will make it easier for busy families to get healthcare services for their children in a convenient location.”
In each case, the school districts will provide the facilities while the Health System will provide staff and equipment. Medical care will be delivered by a mid-level provider such as a nurse practitioner, along with nursing and support staff. Some laboratory tests can be performed on-site, and all clinics will be linked to the rest of University Health System through its award-winning electronic medical record.
School-based health centers in Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth are operated by academic, safety net health systems similar to University Health System. San Antonio-based Methodist Healthcare Ministries currently operates two school-based clinics in Guadalupe County, one of them in Schertz.
Center hours will be from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Friday — making it convenient for parents to bring their children in before school starts and after the final bell rings. Most forms of insurance, including Medicaid and CHIP, will be accepted. For children with no health coverage of any kind, a flat fee of $15 will cover most visits, including lab tests. 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.
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