BELLEFONTAINE — Benjamin Logan Schools has opened the first school-based health center in Logan County.
The wellness center offers not only primary care but also behavioral health services, too. Students, staff, and parents will be able to access affordable health care on-site during the school day.
“We’re out kind of in the country,” John Scheu, Ben Logan Superintendent, said. “We don’t have readily accessible quality care real close by. So it was very, very interesting to me and certainly I jumped on board right away.”
The wellness clinic opened when students returned from winter break. Even in that short amount of time Scheu said he’s seen a difference.
“They can walk across the parking lot,” Scheu said. “We’re all on one campus. They can come in here and get virtually anything they would at an urgent care so the convenience has really upped our attendance rate for both staff and students.”
When the clinic opened, Scheu said that research showed how beneficial on-site health care can be.
“Schools report improved grades, better graduation rates, as well as less of those things that we don’t want,” Scheu said.
Tara Bair, President and CEO of Community Health and Wellness Partners (CHWP), said school-based health centers improve access to care and play a key role in helping families manage their health care needs.
For Bair, this clinic means a lot personally.
“As a child growing up, healthcare and behavioral health services would have been very beneficial,” Bair said. “My story is very unique in that had teachers not taken a hold of me I wouldn’t be sitting in front of you. So I’ve always had a vision to return that back in someway and a hope that I could do that.”
Paula Strebig, a certified nurse practitioner at CHWP, is on-site daily from 7:30am to noon. She’s able to administer vaccinations, sports physical, primary care, and other related health needs.
“I just feel it’s important to meet people where they are and so to be able to be here and take care of the students, increasing their health, keeping them in class, and it also keeps the parents at work so parents don’t have to come pick their kid up,” Strebig said. “I talk to them on the phone we discuss treatment options and I send in medications or whatever needs to be done. If a student can go back to class they go back to class.”
The wellness center also offers mental health services too.
“We have provided things for staff and students from a stress standpoint,” Scheu said. “That’s where the behavior health unit comes in to play. I think what makes this entire set up unique is we have kind of two different arms if you will the wellness clinic and the behavioral health clinic which I think compliments each other well and provides the needed services for staff, students and parents.”
“Nearly post COVID era,” Strebig said. “Everybody’s stress level has been just incredibly heightened. Anxiety and stress effects our health physically. If we can take care of that first we may not have to start medications for a physical issue that they really have as a result of a mental health issue.”
On March 4th Gov. Mike DeWine announced that $25.9 million will be awarded for 136 new or expanded School-Based Health Centers throughout Ohio.
Two more Logan County school districts and the Community Health and Wellness Partners will benefit from this round of funding.
The CHWP has been awarded $1,102,297 to provide school-based health care services in Indian Lake Local Schools and Riverside Local Schools.
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