Strategies to Continue Providing Care During School Closures

California schools have been ordered closed as part of the statewide shelter in place to prevent spread of the COVID-19 illness.

To the extent that SBHCs are able to stay open during the statewide shelter in place, we know it is critical to stay connected to patients whose health risks and history are known. This will help deliver care and prevention, keeping children and youth out of overburdened emergency systems. Some of the innovations and adaptations in practice by SBHCs include:

Screening

Some SBHCs have set up screening tents to keep patients with symptoms or possible COVID exposure from entering their clinics. Staff review screening questions and check temperatures before patients enter the health center.

Telehealth & Telephone Visits

Many SBHCs are quickly learning how to provide telehealth services. Some routine care and medication refills can be handled by phone. See below for more updates on telehealth. One SBHC is providing mental health skills groups through Zoom for students and school staff!

Navigation & Referrals

This area is critical for making sure students and families know how to access care in the community. Closed sites should: ensure they reroute their phone lines; check voicemail regularly; leave alternate resources on their voicemail greetings; and post resources on school and SBHC sponsor websites. SBHC staff can also help connect students and families to food distribution through local schools and the community, or help inform them about the expansion of unemployment benefits.

Triage

SBHCs are reviewing future schedules to determine what services and clients can wait, who needs to be seen in person, and who can be managed by telephone or telehealth.

Outreach

Many sites are utilizing non-licensed staff to call or text patients to check on their health and well-being, and see if they have any immediate needs. Those that are closed then offer referrals to other providers. Some suggest asking patients for their email addresses so you can add them securely to your EHRs for outreach in future crises. Community Health Center Network has a helpful patient screening and outreach tool.

Printed Guides

Oakland High School’s Shop 55 SBHC, operated by the East Bay Asian Youth Center, created a resource guide for youth and shared it school-wide. Please download and adapt the guide for your students.

Social Media

Health educators are creating messages for YouTube, Twitter, and other online channels.

Supporting School Staff

SBHCs, especially behavioral health providers, can counsel teachers and school administrators, who are overburdened right now, and who may have concerns about themselves and their students. Others can offer self-care tips, guidance and resources such as online exercise or mindfulness classes.

Time to Reflect

SBHC staff can take advantage of unplanned downtime to plan, evaluate quality, assess the needs of their school population, and connect with school staff.

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