Building Linkages for Continued Success

On Thursday May 18th, MASBHC held its 2017 Annual Conference, Building Linkages for Healthier Students. MASBHC was thrilled to occupy a new location for this year’s conference; it was held at The Meeting House in Columbia, Maryland.

Our keynote presenters were the founders of the Holistic Life Foundation, Ali Smith, Atman Smith, and Andres Gonzalez. The Holistic Life Foundation is based in Baltimore and they use a comprehensive approach to help children develop their lives through yoga, mindfulness, and self-care. Their programs have been used as alternatives to suspension in Baltimore City schools and have been improving the mental health of students all across Baltimore. Holistic Life Foundation’s presentation, “Mindfulness for Whole Student Wellness”, focused on the benefits of mindfulness and meditation and how it impacts not only a student’s mental health but also their somatic health. Holistic Life Foundation’s keynote was extremely well received by conference attendees. MASBHC’s past keynotes have been more clinically based. This was the first time that the keynote had a mental health focus.

Prior to the keynote presentation, MASBHC welcomed Congressman John Sarbanes who provided opening remarks to attendees. Congressman Sarbanes has long been a supporter of school based health centers and his remarks enthused the crowd. Congressman Sarbanes expressed his support of school based health centers and his vision for healthcare overall. Thank you to Congressman Sarbanes for attending!

The rest of the conference agenda consisted of one morning and two afternoon breakouts with four different sessions held at each breakout. There were two sessions that highlighted the work of MASBHC initiatives, Hallways to Health and the Maryland Adolescent Health Collaborative. The sessions that were a part of the clinical health track focused on orthopedic red flags, oral health, health needs of LGBTQ adolescents, and asthma in schools. This year MASBHC also had a two part session that addressed the mental health needs of immigrant and refugee students: Building Linkages for Immigrant Students. The first session focused on trauma informed care/restorative practices and the second session focused on school based mental health methods and programs for the immigrant and refugee population.

As you may know, each year at the conference MASBHC recognizes a member of the community that has been integral in supporting school based health centers in Maryland. This year MASBHC recognized Senator Chris Van Hollen. While Senator Van Hollen, was not able to attend, he sent a video message to our attendees expressing his gratitude for his Apple Award and his respect and appreciation for all those working in school based health centers. Special thank you to Senator Van Hollen’s Deputy State Director, Karen McManus, for her attendance at the conference to accept Senator Van Hollen’s Apple Award on his behalf.

The MASBHC Annual Conference is a professional development opportunity that our attendees working in, working with, or working to support school based health centers looked forward to every year. MASBHC is already hard at work to host another great conference in 2018!

Click here to see pictures from the 2017 Annual Conference. 

 

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New Faculty Lounge; New Focus on School Employee Wellness

St. Frances Academy’s Coppin Clinic staff have been hard at work since the beginning of the school year to renovate their faculty lounge. The idea was to make it a more welcoming space for teachers and staff. As part of Coppin Clinic’s participation in Hallways to Health, the faculty lounge renovation has been their employee wellness focus for this year. The faculty lounge will be used as place for teachers to come to destress. The faculty lounge is equipped with a stereo and television to be used for listening to relaxing music or to watch instructional yoga DVDs, which are also provided. The lounge also comes equipped with a water dispenser and a microwave and WiiFit are forthcoming.

To introduce teachers and staff to the new renovated lounge, St. Frances Coppin Clinic held a pancake breakfast on February 28th. Staff and teachers enjoyed a healthy breakfast of pancakes, granola, yogurt, juice, and water. The clinic scheduled the grand reopening of the faculty lounge to coincide with the weekly staff meeting, thus attendance was mandatory and the faculty lounge served as the ideal setting for a staff meeting. 25 total teachers and staff attended the grand reopening. The faculty loved everything about the room especially the calming art on the walls and  the new seating area; they appreciated the overall ambiance of the room.

Employee wellness has been a crucial cog in the Hallways to Health wheel.  School break rooms and faculty lounges send the message to staff and teachers that their health and wellness is important to the school and they create environments that promote physical, mental and emotional well-being for school employees.

According to Kaiser Permanente’s Thriving Schools Initiative, school employee wellness is especially important because:

  • Implementing programs and practices that address their health helps reduce stress and boosts morale, productivity and effectiveness in the workplace
  • Improving the wellness of employees can directly impact the health of students, not just through improved job performance, but also through positive role-modeling of healthy behaviors.
  • Teachers experience high rates of turnover and burnout; when schools prioritize employee wellness, they show staff that they are cared for, valued and appreciated.
  • Healthy employees can save schools significant amounts of money through reduced health care and sick day costs. Reinvest these dollars into the school to promote health, wellness and education.

You dont have to be part of Hallways to Health to implement employee wellness programming. Here are some ideas to kick start healthy living for teachers and staff at your school:

  • Establish criteria for healthy staff meetings to ensure only healthy food and beverages are served.
  • Ensure employees have access to free, clean drinking water campus-wide in convenient and accessible locations. In fact, work to create an environment that favors healthy beverage options like water over sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Include physical activity opportunities in school-wide events like assemblies, evening events, morning announcements and other events. Incorporating activity into established events is a simple way to get the whole school active and engaged, while establishing healthy habits in youth.
  • Support staff to organize group physical activity classes or programs onsite to get active together. Encourage employees to walk or do other activities together before school, during lunch, and after the school day; this will build camaraderie and support for being active together.
  • Recognize staff successes and communicate positive expectations that they can succeed. Show hardworking school staff that they are valued and appreciated, which boosts morale and job satisfaction.

For more resources on School Employee Wellness please visit KPs Thriving Schools School Employee Wellness page.

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Telemedicine In Howard County featured in the Washington Post

School nurse Veronica DeSimone uses telemedicine equipment to connect doctors with students who are ill. (Courtesy of The Pew Charitable Trusts) — Picture from WashingtonPost.com

 

An article featured last month in the Washington Post, highlights the impact telemedicine has had on schools in Howard County. Telemedicine programs in the following Howard County elementary schools are considered a nontraditional school-based health center: Phelps Luck, Bryant Wood, Running Brook, Stevens Forest, Talbott Springs, and Ducketts Lane Elementary Schools. The program has allowed for quicker diagnosis, given providers the opportunity to prescribe medicine on the spot, and have allowed children return to class almost immediately, given their conditions are not contiguous or require additional follow up.

Last year, the six Howard County schools conducted 150 telemedicine exams. Midway through this year, the total was 87. In 98 percent of the cases, (not including those involving who contagious illnesses or conditions that couldn’t be treated through telemedicine), the students immediately returned to class. — The Washington Post

MASBHC has been following the progress of the telemedicine program in Howard County and are excited to see it getting the coverage it deserves.

For the article in its entirety please click here.

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