The Rural Schools Association of New York

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Blog Post 1: School Based Health Centers: Introduction

This is the first in a six-part blog series, by our guest and graduate from the Cornell Institute on Public Affairs, Elisabeth Lembo.

There is an urgent need to expand access to healthcare to students, primarily in rural regions. This is particularly true in New York State, where there is a large population of students in rural regions. In New York, access to School Based Health Center (SBHC) interventions are primarily found in New York City – with far fewer placed in the rural regions.

The specific definition of a SBHC varies by state. In New York, they are defined by the New York State Department of Health as: “a licensed school-based health, dental, or mental health clinic [that] is located in a school facility of a school district or BOCES and [that] is operated by an entity other than the district of BOCES, and will provide health, dental, and mental health services during school hours and/or non-school hours to school-age and pre-school children”.

Given SBHCs’ convenient location within a school, a key advantage of the model is their accessibility to the communities that they serve. According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, SBHCs are recommended because they serve as: “one model of a system of health care delivery that provides a health care ‘safety net’ for children and adolescents who are uninsured or underinsured or represent special populations who do not regularly access health care” (Community Preventative Services Task Force, 2016).

SBHCs and New York State

Given that educational attainment is a social determinant of health, SBHCs are considered a key intervention as they directly provide health service and may indirectly improve educational outcomes (Gregg et al., 2019). For example, one study found an enhanced sense of school connectedness, that is, “the belief by students that adults in school care about their learning as well as about them as individuals” (Bersamin et al., 2019). And, many other studies have cited declines in absenteeism among students at schools upon implementation of SBHCs.

As of March 1, 2019, New York State has 262 approved operating SBHCs. Of these, 164 (63%) operate in NYC 5 boroughs, while 98 (37%) are in the rest of the state. The majority are in Urban and Suburban classified regions, while there are 43 (16%) in Rural Areas (New York State Department of Health, 2020). There is ample space for expansion of SBHCs into rural regions in New York State, and, the state offers funds to support with this work. One major leader in the SBHC field for rural New York State is the Bassett Healthcare Network, based out of Cooperstown, New York. Bassett, which operates dozens of centers, has advanced and refined their SBHC model over the course of roughly two decades. Check back soon for Blog Post 2: The Case for School Based Health Centers in Rural New York.

Source: School-Based Health Centers Updated Fact Sheet (SBHC).
New York State Department of Health, 2019.

To learn more about New York State SBHC Guidelines, start by exploring the School Based Health Alliance of New York.

Additional Information Includes:

To gain more about SBHCs in the United States:

Twenty Years Of School-Based Health Care Growth And Expansion
School Based Health Alliance Chart Pack

Bersamin, M., Coulter, R. W. S., Gaarde, J., Garbers, S., Mair, C., & Santelli, J. (2019). School-Based Health Centers and School Connectedness. Journal of School Health, 89(1), 11–19.

Gregg, A., Kim, J., Tak, H. J., Wang, H., Tibbits, M., & Webhi, N. (2019). Money, Managed Care, and Medicaid Initiatives Matter: Patient-centered Medical Home Capacity in School-based Health Centers. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and

Underserved, 30(1), 202–220.

New York School-Based Health Alliance. (2020). NY SBHCs Map | NYSBHA. (Community Preventative Services Task Force, 2016).
New York State Department of Health. (2020). School-Based Health Centers Fact Sheet (SBHC).

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