Dayton Public Schools, in cooperation with Five Rivers Health Centers, will open its first school-based health facility for all DPS students and their families at a west Dayton school this fall.
Dr. Mamle Anim, chief medical officer at Five Rivers Health Centers, said her group has been hoping to expand into schools as part of its mission to provide high-quality, affordable services. As a federally qualified health center, Five Rivers has grant funds to serve uninsured patients.
Dayton school board vice president Jocelyn Rhynard said lack of access to health care has hindered many DPS students’ academics. She said progress on this front could reduce chronic absenteeism problems.
“I definitely think it’ll make an impact,” DPS Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said. “Will it be enough? I think we need more school-based health clinics in our schools to make a tremendous impact for our students and our families.”
Anim said the health center at Roosevelt will open “as close as possible” to the start of the school year in August. The center will feature three medical exam rooms staffed at least by a nurse practitioner, plus dental and vision services, as well as behavioral health services.
“Asthma is one of the big things we’re looking at … childhood obesity, and as that increases, diabetes in our children,” Anim said. “Also behavioral health issues — we have a lot of children who are coming from situations of crisis who may be acting out in school because of that. And oral health is not easily available to our children.”
District officials said students will be eligible for health center services regardless of health insurance or ability to pay. Anim said plans are still in progress, but the center likely will serve students during the school day, and will offer services to families after school is over.
Lolli said when nurses at other DPS schools identify students for services at the health center, the school district will provide transportation from their school to the center. She said there is not a firm cost yet for the health center, but DPS is providing the space rent-free, and the groups are collaborating on renovations.
Many high-poverty public school districts have identified “wraparound services” in the medical and social support areas as keys to success. Dayton Public Schools has been working on that front through its neighborhood school centers — six DPS schools where a community partner contributes to after-school and other services.
Lolli credited Rhynard and fellow board member Mohamed Al-Hamdani for their work with health care providers to get the project moving.
“As a district, we know we have a lot of work to do, but we’re taking small steps to make sure our kids and our community have the wraparound services and health care services they need, where they are,” Al-Hamdani said.
Trotwood-Madison schools also will launch a school-based health center next fall, offering a range of health care services to students and families. The center will be housed in the central office building at 3594 North Snyder Road.
“This is another product of our school board’s continued commitment and investment in the well-being of this community,” Superintendent Tyrone Olverson said.