North Country Family Health Center (NCFHC) joins school-based health center providers and advocates from across the nation in recognizing the month of February as National School-Based Health Care Awareness Month. National School-Based Health Care Awareness Month is sponsored by the School-Based Health Alliance, a national organization that promotes and supports school-based health centers to assure all children receive high quality, comprehensive healthcare. The Alliance is celebrating the month with the theme, School-Based Health Centers: Healing Super Heroes Every School Day.
North Country Family Health Center opened its first school-based primary care site at North Elementary in the Watertown City School District in December 1993 and celebrated its 25th anniversary in December 2018. Since 1993, NCFHC has opened five additional School-Based Health Centers and expanded its school-based services to include not only medical services but dental and behavioral health services as well.
Today, NCFHC operates six School-Based Health Centers in the Watertown City and South Jefferson School Districts. Students in the Watertown City School Districts are served at School-Based Health Centers at North Elementary (serves all elementary aged children), Harold T. Wiley Intermediate School, Case Middle School, and Watertown High School. Students in the South Jefferson School District are served at School-Based Health Centers at Mannsville Manor Elementary and Wilson Elementary. Students who attend the Clarke Middle/High School at South Jefferson may utilize the School-Based Health Centers at either Mannsville or Wilson Elementary. Additionally, NCFHC provides school-based dental only services to students at Alexandria Central, Copenhagen Central, Lowville Academy & Central School, Lyme Central, South Lewis Central, and for the ACES Program at Jefferson-Lewis BOCES. In 2018, over 3,200 students utilized the School-Based Health Centers and an additional 500 students enrolled in the mobile School-Based Dental Program. Currently NCFHC staffs 20 employees within its school-based sites.
“We are very proud of our School-Based Health Center Programs and are especially proud of reaching the milestone of providing care to elementary students in the Watertown City School District for 25 years,” comments Joey Marie Horton, Chief Executive Officer, North Country Family Health Center. “Having the opportunity to provide care to children right where they are, in school, is critical to reducing barriers to care; and ensuring more children receive timely, preventative healthcare services. Our goal is to help students stay well and avoid school absences – we truly believe that healthy students learn better.”
No student is turned away from the School-Based Health Centers and all services are provided with no out of pocket cost to families. Therefore, health insurance co-pays and deductible do not apply to families. Students are seen for sickness, chronic health issues, annual physical exams, dental services and counseling services to name a few.
“Our School-Based Health Centers are a great back-up plan for parents. We communicate with students’ primary care providers and coordinate the care they need – whether it is just a cold or a chronic ongoing issue,” states Heather Lupia, School-Based Health Center Program Administrator. “We are especially grateful for the grants we have received to expand our school-based dental programs this year – one from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield and the other from the New York State Empire State Development grant. The grants have allowed us to provide dental services to an additional four school-based sites as well as engage students from the ACES Program at Jefferson-Lewis BOCES.”
Any student can enroll to use the school-based services! Parents, or guardians, can visit www.NoCoFamilyHealth.org for more information. Anyone needing assistance enrolling their son or daughter can contact the School-Based Health Center Program Administrator, Heather Lupia, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Country Family Health Center is a Federally Qualified Health Center that provides high-quality, affordable healthcare to over 11,000 North Country residents annually at its community-based locations in Watertown, Lowville, and LeRay and at its school-based locations. NCFHC also provides nutritious food vouchers and other support to approximately 5,000 pregnant women, infants, and children each month through its WIC Program; assists approximately 4,000 individuals with insurance enrollment annually; and provides special initiatives to help high-risk pregnant and parenting families and individuals who experience insecure housing.
For more information about North Country Family Health Center or its programs, visit www.NoCoFamilyHealth.org or call (315) 782-9450.