What does a coordinated system of health care look like at school?
You can get a good picture from the Chino Valley Unified School District Health Center. This school-based health center (SBHC) has served over 3,000 students from 35 schools – and their families – in the past three years in a diverse community of San Bernardino County. They offer students free dental screening, physicals, vaccinations, sick care, and nutrition counseling for students and their families. They also refer students in need of mental health care to a behavioral health specialist next door.
To get a sense of the impact, Nurse Practitioner Zahira Orioli shares Jenni’s story. Initially, a health technician at Jenni’s elementary school referred her to the SBHC because she complained she did not feel well and mentioned she had diabetes. This referral set in motion a chain of communication and practices that likely saved her life.
Jenni’s mother, Elsa, brought her to the SBHC, which conducted a full physical and medical history to get a clearer picture of Jenni’s life outside the classroom walls.
In this case, Elsa shared critical health information about Jenni, and the skilled staff knew exactly what to do. Because Jenni did not have health insurance, Elsa took Jenni to Mexico for treatment, where a doctor diagnosed her with Type 2 Diabetes and prescribed the necessary medication. However, the SBHC nurse practitioner that gave Jenni her physical recognized signs of Type 1 Diabetes instead and noted that her medicine was not making things better.
The SBHC ordered labs that confirmed the Type 1 diabetes and referred Jenni to an expert at Children’s Hospital in Orange County for further evaluation and treatment. With the proper diagnosis and referral, Jenni is now receiving the right medication and treatment.
Just as important as making the correct diagnosis was making sure Elsa and her family got connected to coverage so they could afford regular care for Jenni. Being uninsured is common in the community this school-based health center serves: more than 98% of the students served at the SBHC are from low-income families, and 82% are uninsured or underinsured. Thankfully, Chino Valley Unified School District has a Certified Enrollment Counselor who connected Elsa and her family to coverage.
This SBHC’s coordinated approach helps students, like Jenni, stay healthy so they can get back to class and succeed in school.