School Health Initiative Extends Reach with “New Directions” Grant

The Miller School’s Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation School Health Initiative has been awarded a New Directions for School-Based Health Grant funded by the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust and administered by the School-Based Health Alliance. The grant will allow the School Health Initiative to build upon its existing structure, increase program visibility and promote community awareness and buy-in.

A partnership between the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation and the Miller School Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, the School Health Initiative brings free healthcare services to children in nine Miami-Dade County public schools.

Joycelyn Lawrence, M.D., assistant professor of family medicine and community health and Medical Director, says the grant will help the School Health Initiative enhance its healthcare coordination model and put it on track to achieve Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition from the National Committee for Quality Assurance, a central source driving improvement throughout the healthcare system.

The School Health Initiative uses a multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, social workers, dentists, psychiatrists and community health workers to meet the healthcare needs of children and adolescents within the school setting, making it a viable single point of access for healthcare, education, public health services and home services. Through improved communication methods between clinical staff, a local emergency room and parents, Lawrence says care coordination will be enhanced through multiple electronic data systems that allow information sharing.

“Because children spend a substantial amount of time in school, setting linkages between healthcare and education has constructive value,” said Lawrence. “This multi-point method of access often goes unnoticed by providers and paves the way for a lack of coordination of care. With this grant, we will improve our text messaging system for appointment reminders and further develop our ER notification system with Jackson North Medical Center.”

Lawrence and her team also will use the Children’s Health, Education and Economic Resource (CHEER) to incorporate a tracking system for oral health screenings and document encounters with dentists, dental hygienists, psychiatrists and licensed clinical social workers. Additionally, they will develop a toolkit that can be used by other school health programs to determine cost savings and advocacy resources that may help garner additional support and promote relationships with HMOs.

“By determining the monetary value of school health services, including those rendered through coordinated care, more sustainable models of school health become possible,” Lawrence said. “This information will be used to demonstrate cost savings for advocacy and insurance policy development.”

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