Emory Pediatric Urban Health Program awarded $500,000 grant to further its mission

Woodruff Health Sciences Center | Oct. 30, 2012

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Juliette Merchant
404-778-1503
juliette.merchant@emory.edu

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Healthcare Georgia Foundation is a statewide, private independent foundation with a mission to expand access to affordable, quality healthcare for underserved individuals and communities.

The Emory Pediatric Urban Health Program has been awarded a $500,000 grant from Healthcare Georgia Foundation to fund the start-up of three School-Based Health Centers in Georgia.  

School-Based Health Centers (SBHC) improve the overall health and well-being of children and adolescents through comprehensive health services that include the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses, universal health screenings, integration of behavioral health into primary care services and wrap-around services that support the student, their families and the school system. As a result, these students are better able to learn and achieve greater academic success. The new Georgia SBHCs will be implemented in the cities of Albany, Tunnel Hill and metropolitan Atlanta.  

"School based health centers are a holistic approach to caring for underserved children in the context of everything that affects their lives. It's a community-based  system of care for at-risk youth that is tailored to address the unique needs of  their respective communities," says Veda Johnson, associate professor of pediatrics at Emory School of Medicine and executive director of the Pediatric Urban Health Program.  

"This system of care results in improved access to primary health care, improved health outcomes and improved school attendance, which translates to better academic performance. Currently there are six operational school based health centers in Georgia. Thanks to funding support from organizations like Healthcare Georgia Foundation, we will be able to expand this critical system of care to more children in our state."   

With improved access to primary care, Johnson says the state also benefits from reduced costs to the Medicaid system as the number of inappropriate emergency room visits and hospitalizations for chronic illnesses is dramatically reduced. 

The services provided by the SBHC complement and expand the work of the school nurse. With a child friendly themed atmosphere, the health center is a fully functioning clinic space complete with exam rooms, laboratory and waiting room. Staffed by a multidisciplinary team comprised of a nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or physician, social worker/mental health provider and medical assistant, SBHCs provide services similar to that offered in a typical doctor's office. In addition, the SBHC staff serves as a resource for school-wide health promotion efforts and often provides wellness support for school administrators, teachers and other school personnel.

Healthcare Georgia FoundtainHealthcare Georgia Foundation's mission to advance the health of all Georgians and to expand access to affordable, quality healthcare for underserved individuals and communities aligns with the Emory Pediatric Urban Health Program, which received a five-year $3 million gift from The Zeist Foundation to help improve outcomes for at-risk children in Georgia.  

The 2011 Kids Count Data Book — a national study on the overall well-being of America's children — ranked Georgia children 42nd in the nation. According to the study approximately 300,000 of the state's children are uninsured and have very limited access to routine healthcare.  

"In order to address the needs of these children, we have to expand the safety net in our state to capture those who fall through the cracks of our health care system," says Johnson.  

The school-based health center model is recognized as a vital component of the health care safety net for kids. More than 1,900 SBHCs across the country provide high-quality, comprehensive medical care for nearly two million students. These services are provided without concern for students' ability to pay and in a location that meets students where they spend a majority of their day: at school.  

Since 2010, the Emory Pediatric Urban Health Program has awarded 23 planning grants to counties throughout the state of Georgia. These planning grants bring community stakeholders together to identify the health needs of their children and to develop interventions that address those needs. This planning effort can serve as a vital starting point in developing future school-based health centers throughout the state of Georgia.

About Healthcare Georgia Foundation

Healthcare Georgia Foundation is a statewide, private independent foundation. The Foundation's mission is to advance the health of all Georgians and to expand access to affordable, quality healthcare for underserved individuals and communities. Through its strategic grantmaking, Healthcare Georgia Foundation supports organizations that drive positive change, promotes programs that improve health and healthcare among underserved individuals and communities, and connects people, partners and resources across Georgia. For more information visit: www.healthcaregeorgia.org.