By Lisa Rutledge
If we want our children to learn, we have to keep them healthy. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, parents and kids will have more resources at their disposal this year to help them succeed in the classroom.
One component of the Affordable Care Act includes funding for school-based and school-linked health clinics. These clinics in our community provide students and their families with health screenings, healthy lifestyle education, and disease prevention activities.
The Affordable Care Act recently provided $95 million to 278 school based health centers across the country, which will provide care to approximately 790,000 students and their families. In Michigan alone, nearly $4 million is being provided to 12 school-based health care clinics, including Oakwood’s Taylor Teen Health Center, Inkster Teen Health Center and Adams Upper Elementary School Health Center in Westland.
By funding these school-based clinics and including health as part of the school curriculum, we are keeping our children healthy and focused on their studies. Without these clinics, many children have to miss class for doctor’s appointments and screenings, causing them to fall behind on their schoolwork. Now, the care they need is just a few steps away.
In 2010, over 2,200 students were seen at the Oakwood school based/school linked health centers, which are funded in part by the Michigan Department of Community Health. An additional 20,000 contacts were made with youth with health promotion outreach about substance abuse and violence prevention, nutrition and exercise as well as pregnancy prevention.
The care provided at these clinics drastically reduces the class time missed due to sickness. Additionally, easy access to flu shots and other vaccines reduces school-wide illness outbreaks.
Not only does this help kids, but it also helps parents who can’t afford to take hours off work to shuttle them back and forth to the doctor. Preventive care provided by these clinics also helps parents catch any serious health issues early. Physicals for sports and recreation programs are offered by the centers, also saving time for parents.
Support to these clinics to purchase needed equipment and make renovations are just one component of the Affordable Care Act, which should be applauded and supported for initiatives such as improving Michigan’s children’s health. If we want to give our children a great education, we have to make sure they are healthy.
These centers give kids a huge step toward becoming the next generation of healthy and successful leaders. Oakwood is proud to use dollars from the Affordable Care Act to help achieve that goal.
(Lisa Rutledge is Corporate Director Community Outreach for Oakwood Healthcare System in Dearborn.)