Bassett Pediatrician’s Influence on Children’s Health in NYS Recognized

February 15, 2016

health award.pngVisionary for Children’s Health Award presented to Dr. Chris Kjolhede

On the day he was in Albany meeting with state lawmakers to advocate for expanded support of school-based health in New York State, Chris Kjolhede, MD, MPH, FAAP, a pediatrician and co-director of Bassett’s school-based health program, was also honored with the New York School-Based Health Alliance Visionary for Children’s Health Award.

Kjolhede and a group of Bassett school-based health staff and students joined over 600 other health professionals and students from nearly every region of the state for Advocacy Day, February 9. They spent the day meeting with state lawmakers and asking them to prioritize funding for pediatric primary, preventive, mental and dental health services in the school setting. 

“The governor's budget remains the same as last year in terms of funding for school-based health and we are grateful for that support,” explained Kjolhede. “However, we – the NY School-Based Health Alliance – have asked to restore that funding to 2008-2009 levels. That was the beginning of the recession and a time when nearly every state-funded program in New York was cut. Meanwhile, over the past decade the number of SBH programs in the state has increased so there is even less money available to support each of those programs at a time when there is such a desperate need for expanded children’s health services in the school-setting.”

School-based health centers (SBHCs) are a proven model of care that increases access to primary and preventive health care and mental health services on-site in schools for children and adolescents. They save the Medicaid program money, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce adolescent pregnancy, and improve school performance. SBHCs provide a safety net for children in chronically under-served areas of the state. There are 231 SBHCs in NYS and over 2,600 in the nation.

Following the Advocacy Day ceremony in which Kjolhede was presented with the Visionary for Children’s Health Award, a number of people observed that the pediatrician’s influence extends well beyond the eight-county region served by Bassett Healthcare Network.
John Schlitt, president of the national School-Based Health Alliance, remarked, “Dr. Kjolhede’s passionate advocacy knows no bounds. He’s been a fierce promoter of school-based health centers on the national stage as well, arguing to Congress that the benefits of school-based health care are afforded to too few children and adolescents.”

Sarah Murphy, executive director of the New York School-Based Health Alliance, said, The Alliance is thrilled to recognize Dr. Kjolhede as a member who has contributed significantly to the development of our organization, including the advocacy day event itself, as well as scientifically to the field at both state and national levels. We turn to him for his expertise and model SBHC network regularly to guide other professionals in the field, and we are grateful to him for that."

Kjolhede has been a leader in the school-based health (SBH) movement for over twenty years. His vision and passion for children's health has resulted in the development of the largest rural SBH system in the nation and care of thousands of children and youth in the communities served by Bassett Healthcare Network.

Bassett’s SBH program has grown to include 20 school-based health centers in four counties, the most recent opened last fall in the Richfield Springs School District. In the 2014-2015 school year, Bassett’s SBH program handled 32,649 visits; 32 percent of those were mental health visits and 61 percent were medical visits, In addition, the SBH dental component continues to grow and handled over 2,422 visits last year.
Bassett’s school-based health program is also a past recipient of the Magnet award — which is the highest prize awarded by the American Nursing Credentialing Center— and in 2015, SBH won the community health improvement award from the Healthcare Association of NYS for the oral health component of school-based health.

About Bassett Healthcare Network

Bassett Healthcare Network is an integrated health system that provides care and services to people living in a 5,600 square mile region in upstate New York. The organization includes six corporately affiliated hospitals, over two dozen community-based health centers, 20 school-based health centers, two skilled nursing facilities, and other health partners in related fields. Bassett Medical Center, the foundation of the network, is a 180-bed acute care inpatient teaching hospital located in Cooperstown, NY. To learn more about services available throughout the Bassett Healthcare Network, visit www.bassett.org. Follow Bassett on Facebook and Twitter at facebook.com/Bassett.Network and twitter.com/BassettNetwork.

About the School-Based Health Alliance

The NY School-Based Health Alliance is a member-driven organization that represents 233 SBHCs serving over 200,000 children and adolescents in New York State. Visit our website for more information and resources related to school-based health http://nysschoolbasedhealthalliance.org/ as well as our national organization http://www.sbh4all.org/.

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