Fairfield school clinic a first in the suburbs

Posted at 10:01 AM, Jan 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-08 10:01:44-05

Fairfield school students, parents and staff have a new option for medical care.

Partnering with Primary Health Solutions, OneSight, Deaconess Foundation, Interact for Health and Delta Dental, Fairfield City School District soon will open a full-service, school-based health center.

The center, which shares a building with Fairfield Academy at 211 Donald Drive, is the nation’s first full-service, school-based health center in a suburban school district, said Ronda Croucher, a community relations specialist with Primary Health Solutions. “That model is being done in urban centers, but it’s first of its kind in a suburban school district,” she said.

Primary Health Solutions also is working with Hamilton City School District on a health and vision center. It’s expected to open in late February or early March.

Planning began for both facilities about a year ago, when Primary Health officials began looking into the possibility of offering school-based health centers. “Statistics identified for us several school districts that would benefit close to where we were already operating in Butler County,” Croucher said.

Hamilton-based Primary Health Solutions is the successor to the Butler County Community Health Consortium and Middletown Community Health Center. The nonprofit provides care to more than 19,000 patients through centers in Hamilton, Middletown and Oxford.

Fairfield district officials were quick to express interest in the idea, and a $300,000 grant from Interact for Health served as a catalyst for its development. Contributions of $300,000 from Deaconess Associations Foundation, $300,000 from Sears Optical and $150,000 from Delta Dental Foundation also will support operations at the facility.

Interact for Health, formerly the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, works to improve health in 20 Greater Cincinnati counties, including Butler, in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

The school health center’s services will be available to students, parents and staff members and are to include immunizations, physicals, chronic-disease management, comprehensive eye exams, dental exams, cleaning, X-rays and mental health services.

“This puts a lot more resources all in one location, so the kids can get their needs met where they’re at,” said Stephen Roller, Primary Health’s chief clinical officer.

Having a variety of specialists under one roof is helpful for patients as well as care providers. “With it being a fully integrated center, the providers will all be able to coordinate care,” Croucher said.

Health-care services will be provided — with parental consent — to all the district’s students, regardless of their insurance coverage status and carrier. The center will be particularly helpful for families on Medicaid, who may have struggled to find health care providers, Roller said.

Offering health services through the school district also means parents don’t have to miss work to take their children to appointments. “We’re able to transport the child to and from appointments, and that can be handled during the school day,” Croucher said.

District officials also hope to cut down on student absences.

“Our goal is to keep students in school and ready to learn,” said Superintendent Paul Otten in a press release. “Having the center in our district will eliminate this barrier. Students will receive care during the school day without requiring their parents to leave work and lose wages.”

Keeping students healthy ensures better performance in school, which serves as an indirect benefit to the district as well, Roller said.

“We’re just really excited to get things off and going here in the new year,” he said. “We know it’s going to be a big benefit to the students and our community.”

District officials will hold a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 14 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the center.

New patients get chance to win iPad

The School-Based Health Center at the Fairfield Academy building is now accepting patient registrations.

Those who register by Feb. 1 will be entered to win an iPad in a drawing held that day.