MASBHC Secures Most Significant Legislative Advancement For School-Based Health Care In Decades

The Maryland Assembly on School-Based Health Care (MASBHC) led a successful campaign to secure a huge step forward in funding for school-based health centers and school health in the 2019 legislative session.  In the just enacted Senate Bill 1030 – The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, the Maryland General Assembly has set aside approximately $50 million over the next two years for school-based health centers and school health for schools with a high concentration of poverty. Each qualified school will receive $248,000 for community school coordinators and primary care clinicians in school-based health centers and school health roles. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk for his review and signature.

The 2019 legislation is just a down payment.  MASBHC has paved the way for additional funding expected in 2020 legislation.  That funding could potentially quadruple the state’s investment in school-based health center grants. “MASBHC has been cultivating the Maryland General Assembly’s commitment to school-based health centers and school health initiatives, and our hard work has paid off.  I’ve never seen this level of interest and investment in school-based health centers. It is unprecedented,” said Dr. Patryce Toye, President of MASBHC.

MASBHC saw an opening to advocate for additional resources with the establishment of the Kirwan Commission, also known as the Maryland Commission on Innovation & Excellence in Education, in 2017.  The Commission has been evaluating the need for additional K-12 education funding. “MASBHC recognized the opportunity right away to highlight the importance of school-based health centers in education,” says Donna Behrens, Chair of MASBHC’s Policy Committee.  “We have been working on the ground since Day 1 to secure this victory. Our thanks goes to the many members of MASBHC who helped make this happen.”

Please stay tuned.  MASBHC will be providing opportunities to learn more about the 2019 victory and plans for 2020.  If you would like be a part of MASBHC’s ongoing work, please join our Kirwan Action Committee by notifying Rachael Faulkner at (410) 693-4000 or rfaulkner@policypartners.net.

MASBHC closes the 2019 session with condolences to the family and community of Speaker Mike Busch, as we mourn his passing on Sunday.   Speaker Busch left Maryland a better place with his legacy of commitment to health care access and education for all Marylanders.

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Summit Hall: Collaborative Care for Student Success

Aurora* was 10 years old when she first arrived from Guatemala to Summit Hall Elementary in Gaithersburg, Maryland. In November 2016, Aurora was enrolled in one of Summit Hall’s fourth grade classes. Upon her enrollment, she and her mom were escorted by the main office staff to the SBHC were they could assist her and her family with both their health and social needs, including the fact that they did not have any health insurance.

During her first visit to the SBHC at Summit Hall, Aurora’s mom expressed concerns of a history of hearing problems that Aurora had experienced up until then. Immediately the health staff in the SBHC tested her hearing to get a baseline of her hearing loss and scheduled a well-child check for the next week. The Linkages to Learning caseworker assigned to Aurora and her family, assisted Aurora’s mom with applying for the Montgomery County Care for Kids program and eventually applying for Medicaid.

After determining the severity of Aurora’s hearing loss, the SBHC RN met with Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) staff that specializes in assisting students who are deaf or hard of hearing to determine their next steps. It was determined that Aurora needed to be evaluated by an Audiology Specialist and an ENT immediately, and thus could not wait for either the Montgomery County Care for Kids and/or Medicaid to be approved. Having the best interest of the student in mind, MCPS paid for the student to be evaluated by both an Audiologist and an ENT specialist.

As a result of this swift action, Aurora was given loaner hearing aids and is now enrolled in a school specifically for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Even though she is no longer at Summit Hall, Aurora is enrolled in Montgomery County Care for Kids and receives her medical care at Summit Hall’s SBHC.

In addition to help with Aurora’s medical care, the caseworker also assisted Aurora’s mom with employment and housing. Aurora’s mom now has a stable job and home.

If not for the collaborative efforts of the SBHC and MCPS staff to see that Aurora’s health needs were met, she would not be in the classroom that fits her needs today. In addition, to making Aurora’s medical care a priority, they also made it their priority to ensure that Aurora had a stable home life, by helping her mother. Kudos to the Summit Hall Elementary SBHC on this amazing success story!

*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the student

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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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