Trotwood celebrates opening of school-based health center

Trotwood school and city officials on Tuesday celebrated the opening of a Five Rivers Health Center clinic within the school district’s administrative offices at 3594 N. Snyder Road.

Gina McFarlane-El, CEO of Five Rivers Health Centers, said the clinic will have dedicated times set aside for students, but also will be open for the community to use its services.

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Marlon Howard, acting superintendent of Trotwood-Madison schools, said the health center will help parents who have a hard time leaving work to deal with a sick child.

“We will transport the young person here to the building, we’ll ensure that their parents are contacted, and we’ll transport them back (to school) or get them home,” Howard said. “We want to utilize this facility to the fullest because it’s a great opportunity not only for our kids, but for our parents.”

Lea Crawford, the school-based health center’s manager, said it will be a one-stop shop for medical, dental, vision and behavioral services. The area at the north side of the building has a check-in/waiting area, multiple medical exam rooms, four dental chairs, plus separate space for behavioral health counseling and vision screenings.

Most of those offerings are already available, while the vision screening area is being finished.

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Many local schools, especially in lower-income communities, have cited student health issues as a barrier to academic achievement. If the health concerns aren’t addressed in a timely fashion, the students miss more days and can fall behind in their school work. State data shows a clear correlation between high student absenteeism and poor scores on state tests.

“When kids are sick … they’re not in the classroom learning. That significantly impacts achievement,” school board President Denise Moore said. “If we can have a shortcut to helping their well-being … providing the attention they need, it helps the district as a whole, it helps the family as a whole, it helps the student.”

Crawford said the clinic will offer sports physicals, immunizations, free pharmacy delivery, basic medical and dental care, vision exams required by students’ special education plans, access to eyeglasses and more.

State Sen. Steve Huffman, who is a practicing physician, was impressed by the size and quality of the facilities.

“It’s not just about the medical here, it’s the dental work and the vision care — many people don’t know where to go or how to find that,” Huffman said. “And transportation — there are very few Medicaid providers in dental, and if you have to travel 10 miles by bus and don’t know how to get there … this will fill that hole for many people.”

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Trotwood Mayor Mary McDonald called the clinic a wonderful opportunity for students and community members who too often have to leave the city to get their medical needs met.

Five Rivers is also finishing work on a school-based health clinic at Roosevelt Elementary in the Dayton school district. McFarlane-El said the majority of students in both districts are on Medicaid, but there are some students who are uninsured.

“One of the things we do as a federally qualified health center is help to get patients on insurance,” she said. “We’ll work with a family to see if they’re eligible for Medicaid, and if they’re not, we have a sliding fee scale. We work that out with the parent, but in most cases, the child and the parent pay nothing.”

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