What began in 1989 as a modest pilot program at Rainier Beach High School is now a model for an effectivei school-based health care system, serving 5,000 middle and high school students each year across the Seattle School District.
To honor this 20-year milestone in providing high-quality, comprehensive adolescent health care in schools, City of Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson, Public Health – Seattle & King County Director and Health Officer Dr. David Fleming and community partners celebrated yesterday at West Seattle High School.
"This important program has provided services to thousands of young people who otherwise may not have had access to care," said Mayor Nickels. "The investment Seattle voters have made in school-based health centers is making a difference in these students' lives, helping them keep healthy and succeed in school."
Primarily funded by the Seattle Families and Education Levy, the school-based health center funding is managed by the City's Human Services Department, with health care services coordinated by Public Health – Seattle & King County. Several community health care partners are part of a system that operates school-based health centers at 14 middle and high schools, including Group Health, Swedish Medical Center, Neighborcare Health, and Odessa Brown Children's Clinic/Seattle Children's, providing over 25,000 health care visits annually.
"Academic success is achieved through excellent teaching, strong educational leadership and students healthy in body and spirit," said Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson. "Our twenty-year partnership with school-based health centers provides students with ready access to excellent health care, so that they can succeed in school and in life."
School-based health centers offer a comprehensive scope of services including asthma care, immunizations, family planning, and mental health counseling. In addition to addressing health care concerns, they also promote good health for a lifetime through good nutrition education, supportive relationships, and reinforcement of positive self-images.
"We knew that students needed health services in the schools when we started the Rainier Beach High School pilot in the 1988-89 school year and included funding for school health centers in the first Families and Education Levy," said former Seattle of Seattle Mayor Rice. "I am gratified by the success of this program and the number of students who are healthier because of it."
In surveys of students who use Seattle's school-based health centers, approximately 75 percent reported they accessed care in these facilities they would otherwise not have received. Not only are these youth helped, but our community saves thousands of dollars through benefits such as immunizing youth against preventable disease and preventing unplanned, teen pregnancies.
"School-based health centers provide an array of health services to young people who are most vulnerable and least likely to obtain care through traditional health care delivery systems," said Director and Health Officer Fleming. "By being on site where youth learn and grow, the centers are ideally placed to improve their health and promote readiness to learn."
There are school-based health centers in the ten largest high schools in the Seattle School District: Ballard, Cleveland , Franklin, Garfield, Ingraham, Nathan Hale, Rainier Beach, Roosevelt, Sealth, and West Seattle; and four selected middle schools: Aki Kurose, Washington, Denny, and Madison.
More information on local school-based health centers: www.kingcounty.gov/health/yhs
National information on school-based health centers: www.nasbhc.org