Many components have to come together to make for a productive school experience for students. Omaha Public Schools commendably has been tackling one of those issues by working with local nonprofits to provide health clinics at eight OPS schools.
As school officials and students stated in a recent article by The World-Herald’s Erin Duffy, the clinics are making a positive difference. In their first three years of operation, the centers logged 12,304 visits and served 9,394 boys and girls.
The clinics provide basic health care and are part of a national trend. Through their convenience and flexibility, the health centers help promote better attendance and student performance.
Most students accessing the clinics are from low-income households, many of whom have little experience with the health care system. These families generally find the clinics’ services — including immunizations, tests for mono and treatment for bumps, cuts and sprains — quite helpful, as examples in Duffy’s article illustrated.
Debra Gartin, the nurse practitioner at Northwest High School, pointed out one advantage: “The parents don’t have to leave work, pick their kid up and take them to the doctor. It keeps them in school longer.”
Kudos should go to the nonprofit group Building Healthy Futures, an offshoot of the Building Bright Futures initiatives, for spearheading creation of the clinics. And the two community organizations providing the health centers — OneWorld Community Health Center and Charles Drew Health Center — are once again demonstrating their impressive contributions to helping disadvantaged Omahans meet important health care needs.
The clinics are funded by a mix of medical payments and reimbursements, federal grants and Building Healthy Futures funds that cover the gaps. The annual cost for each center is around $100,000.
As Duffy’s reporting noted, school officials also are pleased with the mental health services the clinics are providing. That’s an important advance, given the recent survey data indicating significant concern about young people’s mental health challenges in Douglas County.
Plus, in January, the clinics will beef up their basic dental services using school nurses, “telehealth” information-sharing and assistance from local university dentists.
A salute should go out to OPS and all the organizations that have come together to provide these services. Healthier students make for stronger schools as well as a stronger community.