By Ms. Suzanne Ovel (Army Medicine)January 21, 2016
More teenaged military dependents can now get their healthcare needs taken care of right in their schools thanks to the recent opening of three more School Based Health Centers.
Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., paired up with the Clover Park School District and the Puyallup School District to open part-time Madigan clinics at Harrison Preparatory School and Mann Middle School in Lakewood on Jan. 14 and at Rogers High School in Puyallup on Jan. 21.
"What we're trying to do is make an opportunity to engage our patients, in this case our kids, in a way that works for them," said Col. Michael Place, the Madigan commander.
By offering primary care services and behavioral health screening in the SBHCs, teenaged patients get better access to healthcare with less time taken out of school to travel to medical appointments. With the SBHCs, the classroom is the waiting room.
"I think that is probably what parents appreciate the most, how convenient and accessible we are," said Casey Hutzell, a licensed practical nurse with Madigan's Adolescent Clinic. The first SBHCs opened in 2012 in Steilacoom High School and Pioneer Middle Schools in DuPont, followed by Lakes High School and Woodbrook Middle School in Lakewood.
Hutzell said that teenage patients in those schools open up more with their care teams; she thinks they're more relaxed and comfortable talking to their providers in the more familiar settings.
"It's their school; we're coming to them," she said.
Madigan's newest SBHCs are "another step forward with providing patient-centered health services," said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Keith Lemmon, deputy chief of Madigan's Primary Care Service Line and the chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine. The hope is that they follow the success rates of the current clinics, which boast increased immunization rates and numbers of wellness visits completed, and less missed appointments than other adolescent clinics.
Clover Park School District Superintendent Debbie LeBeau said the SBHCs provide "tremendous benefits," and called collaborating with Joint Base Lewis-McChord a longstanding practice for the district.
Madigan patients who use the SCBHs can access a variety of on-site care to include physical exams, immunizations, acute and chronic illness management, sports injury and concussion management, screening for emotional and behavioral health concerns, classroom consultation on wellness issues, pharmacy services, lab specimen collection, and referrals to direct care consultative Madigan providers when needed.