Richfield Springs Opens School-Based Health Center

October 25, 2015

school

State lawmakers, parents, school officials, health care providers, students and others joined Richfield Springs Central School and Bassett Healthcare Network Thursday, Oct. 15, to celebrate the opening of a school-based health center (SBHC) that is serving pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students in the Richfield Springs school; it is Bassett’s 20th such center in upstate New York.

Bassett Healthcare Network President and CEO Vance M. Brown, MD, congratulated the school on the health center’s opening, a project that has been over eight years in the making.

“I’m a family doctor by background and have taken care of a fair number of kids over the course of my career. I think school-based health centers offer one of the best models for taking care of kids. What an incredible asset they can be.

"Bassett’s program is more comprehensive than most as it provides not only medical care, but oral and mental health care as well. Especially in the new environment of population health and preventive care, this mission of being in a community with boots on the ground doing community health improvement is what this is all about,” said Brown. “We are proud of the opportunity to partner with Richfield Springs Central School to help improve the lives of our young citizens, who are the future of our region.”

During the 2014-2015 school year, Bassett’s SBH program handled 32,649 visits; 61 percent were medical visits, 32 percent mental health visits, and the dental component continues to grow with more than 2,422 visits to a dental hygienist in the school-based health centers during the previous school year.

The SBHC does not replace the school nurse. Rather, students enrolled in the program can been seen by family nurse practitioner Cynthia Campbell. A Bassett pediatrician is available for consultation and will be on site at the school one to two times each month. Kathleen Dejong, a licensed clinical social worker, is available to provide mental health counseling. A registered dental hygienist is available periodically through the year to provide preventive dental services, referrals, and individual and classroom oral health education.

Bassett pediatrician and co-director of the school-based health program, Dr. Chris Kjolhede, says, “We have an excellent team of individuals who comprise Bassett’s SBHP here in Richfield and throughout the counties the program serves. They are on the front lines of taking care of the needs of kids; it is their passion and our collective commitment to improving the health of the population Bassett serves.”

The SBHC may become a child’s primary source of health care. If a child already has a health care provider, the SBHC will work with that provider in caring for the child. Care provided in the SBHC setting includes:

  • Annual physical examinations 
  • Immunizations
  • Diagnosis and treatment of both short-and long-term illnesses
  • Mental health services
  • Health education
  • Preventive dental care

Scot Mondore, president of the school board, noted, “After many years of perseverance and dedication by many individuals, the Richfield Springs Central School District is pleased to open the doors of Bassett Healthcare's 20th school-based health center. The services provided to the children of our district will enhance their access to health care and provide an affordable option for families of our community. We thank Bassett for providing this opportunity and join with the organization in believing that good health is paramount for students to achieve success, not only in the classroom but also in their future lives.”

The only requirement for enrolling a child in the SBHC is that they must be a student in the Richfield Springs Central School District. No family pays out-of-pocket for any services provided at the SBHC. If a student has insurance, the SBHC will bill the student’s health insurance for services provided at the clinic. For those without insurance, the SBHC can help enroll eligible children into Child Health Plus, the state’s health insurance plan for children.

Richfield Springs’ SBHC is open on days school is in session along with limited summertime hours. During non-school days, parents may call the SBHC’s toll free number, 1-800-BASSETT (227-7388), to be connected with a SBH medical or mental health provider. The SBHC was funded through a grant and monies secured by NYS Senator James Seward and Assemblyman William Magee, as well as a generous contribution by SEFCU (State Employees Federal Credit Union).

Photo Caption: Dr. Chris Kjolhede, pediatrician and co-director of Bassett’s school-based health program, conducts a medical exam on seventh grader Amy Seamon at Richfield Springs Central School’s new school-based health center. It is the 20th such health center Bassett operates in four counties in upstate New York. Bassett’s is the largest rural school-based health program in the state.

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