BY FREDA MIKLIN – GOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
At the regular meeting of the Cherry Creek Schools (CCSD) board of education on April 12, it was announced that beginning May 3, CCSD will provide Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to students aged 16 and over who wish to get them. A parent will need to be present when the vaccine is given to any student under the age of 18.
Michelle Weinraub, MSN, RN, NCSN, district director of health services, shared the news that construction of the first school-based primary care clinics on campus will begin this summer at Overland High School, 12400 E. Jewell Avenue, Aurora, CO 80012, and Horizon Community Middle School, 3981 S Reservoir Road, Aurora, CO 80013. Both facilities have a targeted opening date of January 2022. These facilities are a joint effort of CCSD and STRIDE Community Health Centers (STRIDE).
Weinraub said, “The school-based health centers (SBHCs) will allow CCSD to create solutions for our students and families to eliminate achievement disparities…be responsive to our community’s stated needs, including engagement, connection, and innovation, and create a permanent health care setting so students and families can self-advocate for their own health and wellness (in a manner) that is racially and culturally responsive and equitable.”
The benefits of SBHCs, Weinraub explained, will be the ability for students to receive quality physical and mental health care before, after, or during the school day, which will avoid unnecessary absences and make obtaining these services easier.
CCSD will provide school-based sites for the health care centers, along with architectural, design, and construction services, marketing support, and technology. STRIDE will provide the medical staff and laboratory services, administrative services, patient records, direct medical referrals with follow-up, health education, and needed counseling for students and families. Acute care will be provided primarily by nurse-practitioners, but doctors and physician assistants will also be available as needed.
The SBHCs and the services they provide will be available not just for CCSD students, but for their families, as well. In addition, appointments will be reserved each day at the clinics to provide care to members of the community who do not have children at the schools at which the SBHCs are located. In the presentation to the school board, it was stated that CCSD has a responsibility to be an active part of each school community and that one of the important goals that CCSD will address through these facilities is the institutional racism that is demonstrated by the health care disparities seen by communities of color.
The presentation also stated that by partnering with STRIDE, CCSD will positively impact the overall health of students’ families; healthy families are more likely to have reduced adverse childhood events, higher positive mental health scores, and less incidence of reported neglect and abuse. Clinics will be open year-round and during school vacations.
Asked to explain how the cost of services provided to students will be paid at the SBHCs, Weinraub said that STRIDE will bill insurance companies for students who have private insurance, Medicaid, or CHP Plus (Child Health Plan Plus is public low-cost health insurance for children and pregnant women in families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to pay for private health insurance). For the uninsured, full coverage will be provided at no cost to students or their families. STRIDE is a 501(c)(3) Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) established in 1989 to provide primary care and other health-related services to the medically indigent population in suburban Denver. It has at least ten health center presently operating in metro Denver and two others that are temporarily closed that provide primary medical care, behavioral health care, and dental care. FQHCs received their funding from the Health Resources and Service Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.