Bedford County schools outlined a proposal to provide options for a school-based health care system to educators and community leaders this week.
In July and December 2011 the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded a combined $109 million in competitive federal grants to school-based health centers (SBHCs) to 323 programs across the country.
The program is the first-ever source of federal funding to uniquely support school-based health centers.
On May 9, 2012 Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, announced the next (and final) round of construction and equipment grants for school-based health centers: $75 million to be awarded to approximately 150 sponsors.
Betsy Norris, grants and e-learning coordinator explained, "At one time health and education were definitely separate entities, but now we have teachers who are stressed daily because their job is to teach every single child, and to teach them to their maximum.
"We realize daily as educators that our jobs become easier if we can deal with healthy bodies, because healthy bodies make healthy minds," Norris said.
When student illnesses are not taken care of at home, "... it has a major impact in our classrooms. We cannot educate without a child sitting in that seat, and we could educate better if that child has good health."
Retired teacher Mike Lay, now a consultant for Personal Computer Systems, Inc., has connections to the Bedford County and thought the community, the demographics and the system's forward-thinking approach to technology made the county a good candidate.
"We're here to find out if this is something you want to approach," said Lay. "Do you have an under-served population here? Would you need the ability to connect your children who do not speak English or do not speak it well, to a concerned parent who doesn't speak English at all?"
The school system serves 14 schools and staffs three registered nurses and seven licensed practical nurses. The video conference equipment could link to a nurse practitioner who could electronically view blood pressure, and use an electronic stethoscope and othoscope to provide an examination, and would be able to provide a prescription for medicine.
The SBHC grant is awarding up to $500,000 in funding, which could be used to purchase the video equipment, created especially for medical use and rated as a Class 1 medical device.
Once acquired for use in the schools, the equipment could additionally be used to provide services to instructional staff as well as other county employees.
The HRSA does not require a matching contribution from awarded agencies.
Notice of intent to apply for this year's funds must be made by June 26. The first part of the application provides an overview of the school system with supporting demographic data.
The school board is set to discuss the application at the June 21 meeting, and will vote whether or not to proceed.