Bassett's School-Based Health Program Receives Excellus BCBS Grant to Fund TeleHealth Expansion

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield has named Bassett’s School-Based Health Center (SBHC) program as a 2022 recipient of their Community Health Awards. Jane Hamilton, RN, practice manager and Courtney Graham, FNP, accepted the funding on behalf of SBHC during a visit from Excellus BCBS regional president Eve Van de Wal to the Cooperstown SBHC in June.

Bassett SBH team receiving Community Health Award from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield
Jane Hamilton RN, practice manager (left) and Courtney Graham, FNP, (right) accept the grant on behalf of SBHC from Eve Van de Wal, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Utica regional president (center).

Through a competitive application process, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s Community Health Awards provide funding to launch, expand, and sustain programs and services that promote health. These investments advance health equity by extending the reach of preventive health services or health-promoting programs to vulnerable populations. The health plan’s corporate giving follows all applicable laws and regulations and does not support funding organizations that conflict with its corporate mission, goals, policies, or products.

The $5,000 funding will contribute to the ongoing development of TeleHealth within the SBHC system. Like many uses of remote meeting technology, TeleHealth received special attention during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the technology is an essential complement to in-person local providers well beyond its pandemic applications — especially within a SBHC setting.

“Students utilize video visits to access a variety of pediatric specialties,” explains Hamilton. “This includes tele-psychiatry visits with a psychiatrist; medication follow-ups for ADHD or depression; concussion clearance by a pediatrician; and ongoing management of chronic illnesses, such as asthma and psychotherapy with school-based health mental health clinicians Without the need for these specialists to travel to schools throughout the region — or for students to travel to bigger medical centers — practitioners are able to see more patients and students are able to get appointments sooner.”

TeleHealth becomes even more important to those students with unusual or difficult-to-diagnose conditions. In 2021, Bassett’s SBHC started a telepulmonology program that connects students with rarer asthma and similar pulmonary conditions with sub-specialists in Rochester. The Excellus BCBS Community Health Award will help SBHC expand TeleHealth to other pediatric sub-specialties.

“Providing access to high-quality health care is core to our mission as a nonprofit health plan,” states Eve Van de Wal, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Utica regional president. “We are proud to support the work of Bassett Medical Center’s School-Based Health Centers with essential community health funding to remove barriers to care and improve community health.”